Injuries to Outfielders Set Red Sox Back

Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury are now both on the disabled list, even though both were out for a few days before the Red Sox made the official decision. Jacoby was hitting decent with a line of 0.333/0.333/0.467 while Mike was not fairing as well with a line of 0.233/0.361/0.333. The Red Sox were 3-3 while they had both players on the team, but then have gone 3-7 since. The offense has gone from scoring 5.5 to 3.1 runs per game. The loss of these two can’t be the only reasons for the drop, but it for sure isn’t helping.

To take their roster positions, the Red Sox have brought up Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald. The team also had Bill Hall and Jeremy Hermida on the team already to field the outfield. Since the two starters have gone down, all four of these players have started in the outfield at sometime, but they do not measure up to the players they replaced. Here are the 2010 projected wOBA from ZIPs for all 6 of the outfielders

Starters on DL
Mike Cameron
Jacoby Ellsbury 0.343

Jeremy Hermida 0.340
Darnell McDonald 0.314
Bill Hall 0.299
Josh Reddick 0.299

Of the available replacements, Jeremy Hermida looks to be a decent offensive sub for the two on the DL. The other 3 aren’t close offensively.

On the defensive front, it is a little tough to come up with any great numbers for comparision since some of these players are from the minors and Bill Hall is completely out of position. I looked at several sources, the defensive numbers here at Frangraphs and Tom Tango’s Fan Scouting Report, and got the following information. Josh Reddick is probably the best of the 3 replacements and is probably a better defender than Ellsbury. Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald are similar and look to be average defenders. Jeremy Hermida is by far the worst of the 4.

What kind of options do the Red Sox have right now? They might just wait for both players to return and see if they get a competitive boost. Ellsbury is planning to return to the team immediately after his time is up on April 27th. A return timetable for Cameron has not been set yet.

I think the team needs to make a move for bat, preferably someone that can play outfield for now, but can move to DH once both Cameron and Ellsbury return. The DH position for the Red Sox has been hitting a pathetic 0.159/0.243/0.286 so far this season. They could make a move for a someone on a team not looking to make the playoffs like Michael Bourn on the Astros. Adam Dunn would be a nice fit, but with the Nationals only 2 games out, they will probably not ready to trade one of their top hitters yet.

The season is fairly young and no team is totally out of contention of yet. After losing two of their starting outfielders at the same time and not getting any production from the DH, the Red Sox are in a hole. In any other division, I don’t think it would be a problem, but they are in the AL East with the top 2 teams in the AL. They are currently 6 games behind Tampa and 5.5 games behind New York. Boston needs to start looking into options to get themselves back in the race or even just back to 0.500 before any chance to make the playoffs is completely gone.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

12 Responses to “Injuries to Outfielders Set Red Sox Back”

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  1. Mike says:

    The Red Sox this year remind me of the Yanks from 2005-2008, where they would start insanely slow. The difference is, the Yanks put together 90 win seasons with guys like Kevin Brown, Jared Wright, Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, and a ton of call up starters…The Red Sox have much more depth at pitcher, and they just aren’t pitching well at all. Once the pitching staff begins to right itself, it will be a huge help. They have much less room for error now though, with David Ortiz not producing, they need to get him out of the line-up asap. When he was in the 5 whole, he was up with 2 on and 2 out almost every at bat, he was a giant gap. With that said, JD Drew won’t be this bad all year, and all the errors they are committing are completely unlike the players, I feel like the team is pressing or something, the 2 walkoffs against Texas are going to help spark the team, and with series against Balt/Tor/Balt, they should get back over .500 this week. It isn’t time to panic yet, they just need to make some adjustments, like get Ortiz out of the line up. I still think the Red Sox will be a 90+ win team, they just need to get out of the team wide slump they are in.

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    • Steve says:

      Right, except the big difference is that if the Rays were THE RAYS from 2005-2008, the Yankees would not have been able to close the gap and make the playoffs every year.

      Which is what happened in 2008.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      No, they don’t need any adjusting. They don’t need anything except time, which, as usual, the remaining 90% of the season will provide.

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  2. Shaggychild says:

    Calling for a bat already as a bit extreme. They have Lowell on the bench to take over for what looks like a spent Ortiz.

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  3. BN says:

    Why would the Astros trade Michael Bourn? He’s one of the few guys on their team under 30, and he has a couple arb years left even.

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  4. Hank says:

    Is Michael Bourn ” a bat”… good player, but you’d consider him an offensive solution? And one that would justify DH’ing him or moving Cameron to DH? And Dunn? Do you need a 3rd DH on a 25man roster?

    Bourn is the guy with a career .330 OBP and .681 OPS, right? Sure he’ll steal some bases but do the RedSox need another Ellsbery (fast guy, poor OBP, minimal power)… heck he has a lower slugging % than Ellsbery.

    The problem is the positions where you can find bats (corner infield, DH) is currently clogged by players. They have 2 DH’s (Ortix/Lowell), a 3B guy they have committed a lot of money to (Beltre) and fits the “defensive” philosophy, a good hitting/fielding 1B who could swing to 3B if it weren’t clogged, and another 1B masquerading as a catcher (Martinez). AGon would be a good fit next year when both Lowell and Ortiz are gone – but they’d realistically need to cut Lowell or Ortiz. Or possibly both as the remainder would become a bench player as a backup DH/PH with really no position you’d want to play him.

    The Red Sox need a power bat in the outfield with a swing tailored for Fenway (someone like a Bay? …oops)

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    • R M says:

      They could use Bay this year, but 3 years from now I think you’d be singing a different tune with an overpaid, over-the-hill Bay on the roster.

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  5. pft says:

    They may not measure up to Jacoby and Cameron over the course of the season, but offensively they (McDonald and Hermida) have contributed to more wins than either Jacoby or Cameron. Only Pedroia has done more on offense for this team.

    Also, making Josh Beckett their DH could improve the DH spot. Joking of course, but lets see how the offense improves with gams against the Orioles coming up before making any moves. Red Sox eat up eat birds pitching.

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  6. Dirty Water says:

    This has to be the most retarded FG article yet (and, yeah, I’m including all of Cameron’s homer fluff about his Yankees). It’s 3 weeks into the season, Jeff, get a friggin grip already. Do you actually believe their pitching, offense and defense will continue to be this bad?

    Michael Bourne. LMAO; how about Mark Kotsay instead?

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  7. Joltin' Joe says:

    Cameron’s pretty unbiased, and besides, he’s a Mariners fan…

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