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The saber community would include Wade Boggs here. Here's the problem — at the time, we didn't know he was a superstar hitter, just an awesome singles hitter. Only retroactively would Boggs get his proper due, both as an impact offensive player and for all the unintentional comedy he provided.
You have a 3B hitting .360 with 40+ doubles for 4 straight years (and finished in the top 10 of the MVP vote all four years) and you don't realize that he's a superstar hitter?
I had baseball consciousness back then, and I don't recall Boggs being thought of as a superstar. Check his '87 season; AL's best hitter according to WAR, but he finished far behind George Bell for MVP. That same season, Hawk Dawson was the NL MVP, which speaks for itself as far as baseball's collective ability, at that time, to judge talent.
The baseball writers still hadn't figured out sabermetric stats. But from my memories, Gwynn and Boggs were both considered superstar hitters (maybe not as superstar as the guys who hit more HR), but they were thought of as superstars.
Regardless, Upton does not look like a savior. He's up to nearly 3000 PA and has a career 116 OPS+. He's an "old man" style hitter who doesn't actually add much on the bases and, while he's above-average for RF, that's not exactly a Mike Cameron level of defensive ability.* It's definitely possible Upton will go all Matt Kemp on the league in 2013-14 but, for now, he's a guy with 12 WAR over the last 4 years which is nice, but not franchise-changing and is about the same WAR pace as Gonzalez was on this year.
The best bet is probably not to make an impact trade/FA pickup this offseason, but lay low until there's a chance of a Pedro/Manny level player. The one upside of this trade was that AGon wasn't quite that. Signing the very best seems to me the only real point of having money; for everything else you can substitute intelligence and luck.
The baseball writers still hadn't figured out sabermetric stats.
The trick to obtaining Upton isn't being able to afford him -- everybody can afford him and AZ isn't interested in moving him for money reasons. The trick is suckering Towers.
OK, I take that back a bit. Adding the minor-league talent gives them a few more chits to trade in an Upton swap. I don't think any of the new guys can headline a Upton deal but somebody like Webster would be a good 2nd piece. So the trade did make it a bit easier to land him.
Of course the Youk trade was just flat out stupid from a money and baseball standpoint.
And since he's still "cheap" for 3 years, clearing payroll doesn't make it more likely the Sox get him.
My recollection is that while Boggs was considered a star he was a bit of a step down from the "true stars" like Rice because of the lack of power. He got a lot of criticism in Boston for being only out for himself and for his defense (particularly early in his career when he was legitimately bad).
I would too except look around -- those impact players aren't coming on the FA market anytime soon. Pretty much every stud under 31 is tied up long-term, many of them on pretty favorable terms:
Cabrera, Braun, Votto, Longoria, McCutchen, Pedroia, Heyward, Jackson, Tulo, CarGo, Stanton, Zimmerman, Gordon, Posey, Trout, Headley (I think), Castro, Harper, Kemp, Wieters, ... I may have missed somebody but I don't think there's a single good hitter who will hit FA before his age 30 year anytime sooner than 2016-17 (and they'll probably get bought out before then).
Plus Boggs was considered slow. He ran like a cement block, got on base all the timer, and darn it all, it's all Wade's fault that big Jim Ed grounds into all those DP's.
Clemens and Boggs is apples and oranges.
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