Cameron of Boston

Earlier today, the Boston Red Sox signed John Lackey to a big contract. The act was taken as a signal that Theo Epstein and crew had moved on from signing Jason Bay. Word later arrived that they were no longer chasing Matt Holliday. Naturally this lead to questions. Mostly, “Well, who the heck plays left field?” Tonight, Boston answered that question by signing Mike Cameron to a two-year deal, reportedly worth roughly $15.5M.

Dave actually covered the Cameron versus Bay angle here, surmising that Cameron, not Bay, was the better alternative to Holliday. Their games differ greatly, and this isn’t going to be a rehashing of that post, but no matter where Boston chooses to play Cameron, he’s going to upgrade their defense immensely. The most ridiculous aspect of this deal is the contract. Last season, Cameron made $10M, the season before he made over $6M, and in the three years prior over $7M. The Red Sox, a team with the ability to overpay, just got him for an annual average cost under $8M. Over the last few years his free agent value has averaged more than $14M. So yeah, I’d say the Sox are getting their money’s worth on paper.

UZR paints a fuzzy picture of Jacoby Ellsbury’s defensive talents. One that’s not entirely reliable. Most scouting reports suggest Ellsbury has above-average speed and range and the Fans Scouting Report seemed to support those notions. Nevertheless, Cameron has been and probably will be superior next season. Boston’s choice is now whether to shift the youngster to left or put the veteran out to learn the Monster. They must also decide whether they want Jeremy Hermida to platoon with Cameron, and face paying a hefty price for a few hundred plate appearances.




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92 Responses to “Cameron of Boston”

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  1. Dale says:

    And, your point is……………

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    • Bryz says:

      I think his point is that:

      1. The Red Sox just signed Mike Cameron and the contract is rather team-friendly.
      2. He significantly upgrades their defense.
      3. Now it’s time to decide who gets LF and CF out of Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury.

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      • Kampfer says:

        Seriously I don’t understand why Dale didn’t get the point of the article. He first credited Boston FO, then brought up the question “who should play center”. Clear and simple.

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      • Kampfer says:

        BTW, Cameron seems a good fit to Fenway. Right handed pull hitter who has a 45.3 career FB%… spells offensive breakout to me.

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      • Joe R says:

        Career at Fenway: 96 PA, .220/.326/.451, 5 HR. Low BA, but given his park BABIP of .241 (!), which is the 5th lowest of anywhere he’s played and 2nd lowest of any part where he has 90+ PA, I’m not too worried. That ISO of .231 at Fenway is pretty exciting, though.

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      • Whartonite says:

        Joe R, being a Yankee fan, I’d like those numbers to hold up. I doubt it will happen though. Another reason I wouldn’t worry if I were you is because, as you said yourself, it was 96 PA.

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  2. Taylor says:

    I really don’t like the idea of putting your best fielding outfielder in the monster. I understand if you don’t want to move your young future CF, but I feel like Cameron playing left in Fenway is a huge waste. Now he’ll be an upgrade defensively no matter where he plays, and I’m not sure how big of difference Drew in right compared to Cameron in right makes, but it just seems odd to put one of the better fielding outfielders in the league in one of the (and probably) the smallest left field in the league.

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  3. West says:

    Banking on Cameron to put up a .800 OPS at his age and moving to the big boy league us foolish. I see him hitting around .230/.315/.410

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    • Alex says:

      Cameron put up .250/.342/.452 last year and had a similar line the three years previous, all playing in pitching friendly parks. He is now coming into a park that is extremely friendly to right handed pull hitters. An .800 OPS is a reasonable expectation, and his numbers could easily bump up a little bit. It is you, sir, who is foolish.

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    • Teej says:

      He’s a pull-hitter playing in Fenway. No way he slugs .410.

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  4. RollingWave says:

    Isn’t 37 an age where you should be seriously worried about any outfielder? especially one where his speed plays a huge part of his game?

    Cameron’s been solid for a long time, but surely at some point he’s going to fade no? and really, he’s a very good but not elite player. chances are that the fade will come sooner rather than later no?

    On paper based on what they did in the past couple years, I agree for sure that Cameron’s a smart sign, but the birth dates have to be a real worry no?

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    • TomG says:

      The Sox do have Hermida, who could effectively platoon with Cameron, if it came down to a matter of Cameron (or Hermida, actually) staying healthy for an entire season.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Why would you platoon Cameron? Even against righties, he’s an average-to-slightly-above-average hitter, while providing plus defense in center. IMO, it’s not worth weakening one’s defense in two positions to get Hermida in the lineup 60% of the time.

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  5. Yurko says:

    Yes age is a big concern. Look at Brian Giles.

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    • twinsfan says:

      Here’s what Brian Giles and Mike Cameron have in common….

      ….get all that?

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      • Joe R says:

        To be fair, they are both walk happy, high ISO, meh Batting Average guys. But Cameron is in great shape, he’s a Three True Outcome hitter and doesn’t look like one.

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  6. Noseeum says:

    One of the complaints in the granderson trade threads was “the yanks could have gotten cameron.”

    Well Cameron will make $2.25 million more than granderson over the next two years, most of that difference coming in 2010. Oh yeah and he’s 8 years younger. Advantage Yanks.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      You could say that.

      You could also say that, since Cameron and Granderson are the exact same player, why didn’t Cashman just sign Cam and keep Kennedy/Jackson?

      The mind of your Mr Cashman is often baffling.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Except they’re not the exact same player, since one is, you know, eight years younger. Of course, someone who goes around dropping the term MFY would likely ignore that.

        I love Cameron, he’s a great pickup for Boston, but the Yanks did just fine with Granderson. They had a need to get younger, and they did that without sacrificing the talent level on the field.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        So what if he’s 37? The only things that really matter is that he’s healthy and Jackson could have been ready in 2 years.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        *Could* have been. Look, I liked Jackson plenty as a prospect, but Grandy’s (relatively) young and cost-controlled for four years. That undercuts the advantage of Jackson (or any prospect in general) over an established player. Granderson’s likely true talent level is as a four-win player, and he could be reasonably expected to maintain that over the next four years. With Cameron, we have to project some regression, even if it’s gentle, there’s a larger risk that he falls off the table (just because he’s healthy now doesn’t mean that will hold for two years), and after those two years are up, A-Jax still likely won’t be as good as Granderson is.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Granderson will be a 10mil player in 2 years so wouldn’t exactly classify him as ‘cost controlled’. And if Jackson isn’t much, but he’s been your top 3 prospect for years – being ‘untouchable’ as recently as 1 month before the trade – what does that say about your farm system?

        I’m curious to see how Jackson does. I never thought much of him but apparently others do.

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      • noseeum says:

        “what does that say about your farm system?”

        It says the farm system got the Yankees a star center fielder.

        $10 million in two years? See what Holliday signs for for 2010 and then come back and say a top center fielder is not cost controlled. He’s $5.5 this year and $8.25 in 2011. Assuming the usual inflation, $10 million will be a bargain in 2012.

        No prospect is untouchable if your counterpart is willing to part with an under 30, cost controlled star.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Now he’s a star center fielder?

        :rolls eyes:

        Cost controlled is Ellsbury at a .5 mil per. Granderson is not cost controlled, which in fact, was one of the reasons you have him. I’m thinking, Detroit sold while his contract was still reasonable, knwoing that it soon would not be.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        What else would you call him? Or do four-win CFs grow on trees where you come from?

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=cf&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=6&season=2009&month=12

        /Dave Allen

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      • Dirty Water says:

        I’d call him exactly what already have here: a questionable upgrade over Damon or Melky/Gardner, depending on how he’s used.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=cf&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=6&season=2009&month=11

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      • noseeum says:

        “I’d call him exactly what already have here: a questionable upgrade over Damon or Melky/Gardner, depending on how he’s used.”

        LOL. This guy Dirty Water is funny.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        And if you can show me where it became custom to not consider three-year totals for a player when projecting him forward, barring a clear change, I’ll be willing to consider your list. Until then, I’m assuming you deliberately exclude his high-side outlier while keeping his low-side outlier (offensively) in the equation.

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      • Joe R says:

        Seriously, he’s going to suck because he’s 37 and 37 year olds are supposed to age? That’s simplifying things…

        2008, he produced 4.866 WAR / 600 PA. 2009, he produced 4.108 WAR / 600 PA. Even if that’s linear, 3.2 WAR and 2.5 WAR seasons are better than what Ellsbury produced in 2009.

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      • noseeum says:

        Cost controlled is when your payroll is $200 million, and one of your best players costs less than $8 million, which is the average salary for a 25 man roster.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Agreed but you didn’t do such a hot job, yourself. You gave all three years equal value instead of weighing the most recent ones more heavily. I know, doing so was easier.

        We’ll see about this Granderson guy. I think Kennedy/Jackson was a stiff price to pay but it is be true that he’ll love your short porch. On the other hand, it was not too long ago that a quality LHP was MFY kryptonite. Not last year, for sure, but Granderson sets them back, in that respect.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Joe, I’m not saying Cameron’s going to suck – I’ve supported signing him elsewhere, but relative to Granderson, he carries more risk, IMO.

        DW, doing a 5/4/3 weighting still gave me just a hair under 4.5 WAR going forward, 7/5/3 spits out 4.3 WAR. I’ve been calling him a four-win player, so I’m being even more conservative than that.

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      • Joe R says:

        Kevin, I’m a huge fan of the Cameron signing. Far better move than anything we could have done w/ Bay.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Right, and I completely agree with you. He’s better than Bay, IMO, and carries a quarter of the financial commitment. In this particular sub-thread, though, we were discussing the merits of Cameron/A-Jax against Granderson.

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      • R M says:

        Because Kennedy/Jackson are trailer trash compared to what the Yankees can put on the field. Cashman’s not a stupid guy.

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    • noseeum says:

      Dirty Water, that makes no sense. If they signed Cameron, they’d be out the money, and A Jax would be stuck in AAA providing zero value to the major league team.

      Now they have Granderson, who is better than A Jax and will be better for the next couple of years at least. Plus they have more money. They have a much sought after center fielder locked up cheaply for his peak years and for the next three years.

      This is the Yankees and Red Sox. To say the Yankees would be better off spending more money on an old center fielder and hoping/praying that their prospect center fielder somehow develops power in the next two years instead of just going out and getting the guy who already has the power really makes no sense. That might make sense for the Twins, who need to take risks on their prospects in order to get the bonus of cheap years. Not so for the Yanks/Red Sox. Always a smart decision to trade a hope and a dream for a proven under 30 talent.

      Every team in baseball would rather have Granderson than Cameron, including the Red Sox. The fact that he’s cheaper is just a bonus.

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  7. Paul says:

    I really don’t see how Grandy is advantage Yanks when despite his age Cameron will be able to play a much better CF than Grandy could ever dream for the next two seasons. Grandy needs to be moved to LF right now whereas Cameron is going to displace Ellsbury for at least two years.

    I don’t see how they sign him to play LF when he’s still ++ there. He’s a freak of nature who they are betting on to maybe lose a half step by the time his contract is over and I think that’s a good call. Even then he’ll be better than Ellsbury there. And Ells has played plenty of LF there and did fine. I’m surprised this is even a discussion.

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    • SteveP says:

      Cameron is better defensively in CF than Granderson, but Granderson’s no slouch either. If Cameron is the benchmark for an acceptable defensive CF than every CF not named Franklyn Gutierrez needs to prepare for a move to LF in 2010.

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      • Paul says:

        Granderson was 8th out of 18 CF qualifiers in UZR last season, in huge reversal from the previous season. The comparison doesn’t apply to anybody else. Grandy needs to move to LF, period. By the way, Cam was a +10 and Ellsbury was -18 last season. Pretty straightforward.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Why does being a little above league average defensively necessitate a move out of center?

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      • MBD says:

        What is with the Granderson hate? Based on 2 years, one with an injury? Cameron had 4 “meh” years in the field with the Mets and Padres before coming back with the Brewers for 2 good seasons in ’08 and ’09. Granderson is still young and can easily regain his form in CF. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox made smart moves, so I don’t get all the negativity.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Yeah Granderson and his above average UZR needs to be moved to LF, real good point there…

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      • Paul says:

        You’re right, his -9 in ’08 and whopping +1.6 last season, combined with little girl arm is a great combo going forward. And not that it matters what actual people who get paid to have an opinion think, but I’ve seen a lot of scout talk that he needs to move to LF.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        His -9 in ’08 was the result of a broken finger, he’s +7 over the past three years.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      “Cameron is going to displace Ellsbury for at least two years:

      Says who?

      Look, just because Cameron happens to excel as a defensive player does not mean he was signed for any other reason than as the better choice between Bay, Holliday and himself. I doubt very much he replaces Ellsbury or that Theo even considered such a move..

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      • Paul says:

        If Theo did not sign him to play CF with his +10 UZR vs. Ellsbury’s -18 he should be fired.

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      • MBD says:

        You get the most value out of Cameron in CF and Ellsbury in LF (for now), so Theo should have at least considered it.

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      • R M says:

        Paul, UZR is an unpredictable stat, and you pretty much need 3 years of it for it to mean something. Ellsbury is clearly not a -18 defender. He is probably not as good as Cameron, but he put up a +16.5 line in 2008, so I don’t see why everyone just locks in on 2009 and thinks he is so bad.

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      • JoeR43 says:

        1) Most people don’t lock in, in fact, most people still consider Ellsbury a good defender
        2) His 2008 was done as mostly a corner OF. He’s fast, but his reaction stinks, plain and simple. In the corners, it’s fine because he only has to focus on going one way.

        He’s probably an average defender, overall. Which is fine. It’s just not as good as Cameron.

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  8. Rich in NJ says:

    Cameron needs to play CF, if facts matter.

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    • Joe R says:

      To the Red Sox FO and Francona, they do.
      To the Shaughnessy’s of the world and the minions under his mental control, they do not.

      Of course fans are more excited for Lackey here even though this is by far the better market value contract.

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  9. T says:

    Does anyone else see a big trade coming for the Sox? To be honest the sum of their two moves today seems to suggest to me that they were getting all their ducks in a row before making a big move. It doesn’t make that much sense to me to put Cameron in left, as a lot of his value is defense, and really there’s not much defense to be played in left in Fenway. Also the signing of Lackey certainly made Buchholz more expendable. I think we’re about to see Ellsbury+Buchholz for someone talks heat up.

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    • MBD says:

      Intriguing. What position would they try to fill in a trade, third? It looks like they’re set everywhere else. I’d rather see them sign Beltre and keep Ellsbury and Buchholz. I mean, neither of them is Ajax, but…

      Agree that Cameron has to go in CF, at least for 2010.

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      • R M says:

        Neither of them is Ajax? I assume you mean in the sense that both are more valuable commodities than a prospect who has the potential to be league average at best?

        And if they traded Ellsbury/Buchholz for a 3rd baseman, they would have a hole in the OF all over again.

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      • MBD says:

        My sarcasm came before yours

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      • R M says:

        Well….you can’t blame me for not seeing e-sarcasm. I’ve seen much crazier things than that on here meant seriously.

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    • Joe R says:

      I would love this. Two likely overvalued assets to get a big name.

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      • TixList.com says:

        Agree that Ellsbury is an overvalued asset and would love to see the Sox move him, but Buchholz? Not so fast. I’m still a believer in his stuff and would prefer to keep him around the organization.

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    • Adam W. says:

      I don’t understand how “there isn’t much defense to be played” in LF at Fenway. Have you actually looked at the UZRs for Red Sox left fielders? There’s a few guys that are +10 in UZR/150.

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      • Joe R says:

        By year since 2002, the guys with a 10 or higher UZR/150 in LF on the Red Sox, and # of innings played (min 300)

        2002:
        Henderson – 378 1/3

        2003:
        Ramirez – 1073

        2008:
        Ellsbury – 346 1/3

        Red Sox as a team have been -85.1 in LF since 2002.

        Sure there’s defense to be played in LF at Fenway, but once one learns playing the wall, it’s a lot easier than most OF jobs.

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  10. Kevin S. says:

    Boo! BOOOOOO!!

    /Yankee fan
    //Wanted Cameron

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    • noseeum says:

      I didn’t want Cameron, but this does give Damon more leverage. That’s a little annoying. But then the Matsui deal should hurt Damon’s market value, so maybe even on balance.

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      • Joe R says:

        It’s going to be hilarious if the Yankees don’t re-sign Damon after he was all pissy about how the Red Sox were reluctant to bring Varitek back.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Joe R, that was my thought exactly when he said that this year – you’re going to be in for a world of disappointment come December, Johnny.

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      • Joe R says:

        Unless the Yankees WANT to overpay for a 36 year old w/ limited defense and likely inflated offensive statistics. I mean, if anyone can without blinking, it’s NY, and they can feel free.

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  11. Joe R says:

    Essentially, three situations can play out:

    The right thing: Move Ellsbury to LF, move Cameron to CF, cause fan and media outrage at stat geeks.

    The wrong thing: Keep Johnny Damon V2.0 in CF, limit Cameron’s defensive value in LF

    The absolute wrong thing: Keep JDV2 in CF, platoon Cameron and Hermida.

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    • Adam W says:

      Except for extreme cases, I don’t think it really matters that much how you line up your outfield. You tend to find equilibrium no matter how you align the players. (David DeJesus, for instance.)

      I don’t like Ellsbury very much, but he was a tremendous defender in 2008. I’m not sure what got into his head and made him so tentative in the field last season, but it’s entirely possible that he gets his mojo back and the Sox have an outfield that could rival the Rays’ or Mariners’.

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      • Joe R says:

        More ground to cover in CF. I’m not too sure what his LF positioning was like, but I bet he played closer to the foul line than most because he had the speed to run down balls in the left-center gap. In Center, that luxury isn’t available for him and he often looked lost on the first step.

        Most people think he can get back to an average defensive CF (which given the quality of defense found in CF right now, is pretty good), but we shall see. I’m not much for critiquing outfielding myself, since I was a 2B/SS, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a masters in statistics from MIT to tell who’s good or bad at those spots. But you have to mind me if I’m a wee bit down on Ellsbury’s game, since it screams “overrated”. .300+ BA, Stolen bases, and spectacular diving plays can do that to people.

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      • Adam W. says:

        Well, he’s at least appears to have the skillset to continue doing those things. It’s not a he-needs-to-hit-.340-to-be-effective, Willie McGee type of thing. I remember when he was drafted, the scouting report on him was “Johnny Damon with less power”, and I think that’s as good a description as any.

        Outfield defense is really just a product of speed and instincts. He’s got the speed, and he just needs to build the instincts. I mean, BJ Upton was able to do it, so it’s not like it’s unprecedented.

        FWIW, I agree with the idea that Cameron should be in center and Ellsbury should be in one of the corners (Drew in the other). But I also think that it won’t make much difference over the course of a season.

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      • Judy says:

        If I had even the slightest reason to believe it might keep him healthier and therefore in the lineup more often, I would play Drew in LF and Cameron in RF.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        McGee had some pretty good years where he hit between .280 and .300. (basically his 1st 7 years, except for his MVP season in 85).

        Actually, Ellsbury and McGee are likely good comparables, outside of McGee’s 3 GGs.

        In terms of wRC+, they’re close.

        I doubt Ellsbury ever wins an MVP, but both guys are “really fast guys that should look to walk more”. McGee was just ridiculous. He’d swing at anything in the dirt …. and sometimes hit it for a double. *grin*

        Sorry, you caught my eye when you mentioned McGee (I’m a big fan). Actually, the last time I looked at McGee closely was to compare how similar his MVP season was with Ichiro’s … comparable seasons. (surprisingly, McGee was 20+ better in the newly published wRC+ for their MVP seasons).

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      • JoeR43 says:

        FWIW, here’s who b-r says he’s most similar to through age 25:

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/kellyro01.shtml

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  12. Joe R says:

    And btw, even if you want to dock .5 WAR from Cameron a year, despite not showing signs of slowing down:

    2010: 3.8 WAR
    2011: 3.3 WAR

    That’s 7 wins over replacement for $15.5 million dollars. Even if he’s average, it’s a good contract. At this level, it’s highway robbery, even with the market how it is.

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    • Jon says:

      I wonder how well hes going to do in the AL east

      we all saw that happened to CC when he moved from the NL back to the AL

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      • Kevin S. says:

        The league adjustment is considered to be about .25-.5 WAR, but we also have to consider that Cameron’s going to be playing in a ballpark more conducive to his swing.

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      • Joe R says:

        And CC did fine. Did anyone expect him to continue the pace he set in Milwaukee? If he wasn’t a top 5 pitcher in 2009 in the AL, he was damn close to it.

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  13. CH says:

    I find it hard to believe the Red Sox would sign Cameron to stick him in LF and/or platoon him with anyone. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in CF on opening day.

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  14. MrFan says:

    What is the expected BA/OPS improvement/decline is Cameron expected to experience because he’s hitting in Fenway Park and in the Red Sox batting order?

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  15. circlechange11 says:

    This is a rather interesting article & situation. Mike Cameron, to me, has been one those “victim of market” type things. He’s primarily been a Mariner, Padre and Brewer … and played for the Mets when they weren;t that good (3rd and 4th place). Combine that with his batting average and it’s easy to see where people don’t see his value. Had he been playing on a better team in a bigger market and running down everything while hitting some homers and getting on base, he might have been one of those guys that made a few more all-star games.

    The Cameron situation REALLY interests me because of something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Essentially in the Cameron-bay debate, we’re deciding whether we’d rather have a better offensive player or a better defensive player (duh). Since most lineups/positions are much better offensively as compared to previous eras, I was wondering if, perhaps in the near future, we see a “return to defense” as a main priority. I ask this because the offense is SO good. Giving a team another out, or a runner in scoring position on what could have been a F-8 means more NOW than it ever has.

    So, I wonder if more teams will look at trying to “prevent runs” as a better means of improvement versus trying to “produce more runs”, since either way will get you improvement, only that “producing runs” will cost more.

    I’m still not sure what’s going on with Bay. Really, it seemed like BOS fell out of love with him rather quickly, and now many are jumping on the bandwagon to decrease his value. IMO, he was never as good as BOS interpreted him to be, but still a very good young OF. The expectations of him were to essentially reproduce manny’s offensive production while being a great tam and community guy. Not realistic, IMO.

    Is Cameron BOS’s answer to the Granderson move, as Lackey may have been to the Burnett/Sabathia signings? If BOS adds Beltre, they would have certainly improved their defense substancially, and in 2 rather important positions (CF, 3B).

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    • JoeR43 says:

      It’s very clear to me what’s going on w/ Bay. He’s asking for too many years at too much money, and the Red Sox are well aware of his defensive incapabilities. Hence the Mets are about to shell out way too much money for a guy that will kill their defense.

      I liked Jason Bay in Boston. I’d like to see him return. But not for what the Mets are offering.

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  16. Whartonite says:

    I like how the Teixeira signing last year basically swung the outcome of the division race, or close to it.

    I don’t like how, in the exact same way, the Lackey and Cameron signings that could have made the Yankees favorites to repeat have now shifted those odds to the Red Sox (without the repeating part though).

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    • JoeR43 says:

      Favorites is a stretch in my opinion.

      I’ll look at the upgrades, as it stands:

      The 5th starter platoon of Penny/Smoltz/Byrd was worth 2.8 Wins. Lackey’s probably worth about 4. +1.2 Wins.

      Last year’s fun time at SS was about 1.3 Wins. Scutaro, 2.7 Wins? +1.4 more

      I think if we stick Cameron in LF, him and Bay, though w/ different skill sets, become brutally similar in terms of value. Call it a push.

      Last year we got about 2.7 WAR from the catchers (not counting the games Martinez played 1B). Now I expect about 75% of 5 WAR Martinez and 25% of 1 WAR Varitek, so about 4 WAR. So call it +1.3

      So we’re at +3.9, let’s just say +4 WAR. Age the roster a bit, dock a win or two, so the Red Sox are a 97 win team? I mean, I’m more than happy with 97 wins, but I still think the Yankees are better than that. Let’s see how the rosters match up

      C: Red Sox (Martinez > Posada)
      1B: Push (Teix got the love, but Youk was just as good in 2009)
      2B: Red Sox (Cano is a little better of a hitter, but subject to volatility and isn’t the defender Pedroia is)
      3B: Yankees (by default right now, but would be a Yankee edge anyway)
      SS: Yankees (5 of Jeter’s last 8 years have resulted in higher WAR’s than Scutaro’s career year, for anyone analysis-starved)
      LF: Red Sox (assuming Cameron)
      CF: Yankees (Ellsbury may become an all-star quality player, but Granderson already is)
      RF: Red Sox (Comes down to 540 PA of JD Drew > 620 PA of JD Drew-lite)

      SP1: Push (CC vs. Beckett)
      SP2: Red Sox (Burnett vs. Lester)
      SP3: Push (old man river vs. Lackey)
      SP4: Red Sox (sure Wakefield’s old, but who the hell is the Yankees #4, Joba?)
      SP5: Red Sox (see above, except Dice-K just sucks ass and is the epitome of why sometimes K/9 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and especially why ERA is a poor predictive stat)

      RP: Yankees (Papelbon – good. Rivera – Rivera)

      So more even than I thought. Either way, the only thing that’ll stop either team from winning 95+ games is total dominance from the other.

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      • noseeum says:

        I think you have to make catcher a push. Posada’s still raking, and VMart’s defense is terrible, way worse than Posada. WAR still doesn’t calculate catcher’s defense, so VMart is overvalued at catcher.

        I won’t quibble too much with saying Teix/Youk is a push, but I will point out that defensive metrics for first baseman still seem to have some issues and that Youk’s higher WAR can be attributed pretty much entirely to his bonus points for playing third base. If the Sox sign Beltre, those bonus points go away. By OPS+ (which is a fair comparison for two guys who aren’t known for their speed), Teix beat Youk out by a hair. I would say Teix is the better defensive first baseman even if the ’09 metrics don’t bare that out. Youk is still good though.

        I think I’d give Lackey the advantage over Pettitte.

        As for Wakefield vs. Joba or Hughes, I think I’d have to disagree and say, heck yeah, I’ll take either one of them over Wakefield. But who knows if Wakefield will be starting? If they don’t trade Bucholz, maybe Wake is back to being the everyman he is on occasion.

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      • MBD says:

        I’m still hoping the Sox put Cameron in CF and give Ellsbury a chance to learn from him. I know the sample sizes are small, but Ellsbury was worth so much more in 2008 when he split time among the 3 OF spots (about 300 innings in each corner and over 500 in center) than in 2009 when he played 1300 frames in CF – a difference of 3.5 WAR. In 2008, when his defense wasn’t killing his value, his overall contribution was 3.3 WAR, even though he got 0.0 wins from batting!

        The Sox should put their best team on the field and let Ellsbury get some innings in CF when Cameron is out. This FO doesn’t seem to be above hurting people’s feelings (see Nomar, Varitek), so why not tell Ellsbury to move to LF for 2010 and expect to be back in CF in 2011 if Cameron slows down?

        Nice position-by-position breakdown, btw. I might put Lester as their #1, based on his improvement in 2009 and age. See his 3.13 xFIP vs Sabathia’s 3.82. But that’s just one year, and Beckett’s 3.35 wasn’t bad either.

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      • MBD says:

        By wRC+ in 2009, Youk’s at 153 and Teix’s at 149. That’s pretty close to a push. Beltre has missed a few games the past couple years, so Youkilis might still a few games at 3B (though probably not the 63 he had in 2009). Pretty even matchup.

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      • noseeum says:

        Youk also had a .363 BABIP. Don’t expect that to happen again.

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      • Joe R says:

        To be fair, his career mark is .340, and he is a righty at Fenway.

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      • Joe R says:

        And on Posada v. Martinez: baseball-reference has Posada at -4.6 runs / 1250 Innings at catcher, vs. -8.7 for Martinez. Posada’s been great for his age, but Martinez was the superior hitter, younger, and 4 extra runs of badness defensively won’t change it.

        Just my humble opinion, though.

        & the reason why I say Beckett is the #1 starter is because I still think he’s “the man” of the pitching staff in the eyes of the organization. In his time in Boston among qualified AL starters, according to fangraphs, he’s been 30th of 38 in 2006 (whoops), 2nd of 37 in 07, 8th of 39 in 08, and 7th of 30 in 09. Lester’s been better the past two seasons, but Beckett still has the unofficial title in town, and has done nothing to make anyone question it. Not easy being a top 10 pitcher for 3 straight years. Weird reasoning, I know, but I’m willing to wager Beckett is the opening day starter, barring injury.

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      • noseeum says:

        Yes, I think VMart is better than Posada, but in the way that Teix is better than Youk. Close enough to call it a push is what I meant.

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