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   1. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4317036)
I think what makes it challenging is that there is more certainty in hitting numbers than in baserunning or defensive numbers. I can feel confident in looking at Napoli's offensive numbers that he is what the numbers say he is. I'm cool with accepting that Victorino is better defensively than Upton but is he truly +7? +3? +12? I am skeptical there.
   2. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:33 PM (#4317082)
Terrible signing if they really think he's a solution in RF.
   3. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4317086)
All-around: just like Carl Crawford!
   4. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4317094)
This offseason reminds me more of passing on the overpriced Matt Holliday to sign the all-around solid Mike Cameron to a nice value deal for the OF and John Lackey to shore up the rotation. That strategy worked so well that its hardly a surprise to see the Red Sox go back to that play book! I assume Kyle Lohse for 4/$60M comes next.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4317095)
I don't see the baserunning numbers as particularly problematic. You just add up all the bases they take, based on the situation. There's none of the stringer error and the like that attends to defensive numbers. Shane Victorino is obviously an excellent baserunner - just watch him, or look at his career SB%.

And the evaluation of Victorino's defense also has little to do with UZR. Call him an averageish CF. That should make him a solidly above average RF. That's the value - it's just in the positional adjustment, which again is widely accepted saber knowledge.

(As a check on my tendency to like Red Sox moves after they've happened, I did a little looking around as to whether I'd said anything about Victorino previous to his signing. And I did! Just like with Napoli, I said that 3/36 sounded like a good price. So, if I'm wrong, at least it's not because I was biased by fandom after the fact.)
   6. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:47 PM (#4317103)
Good base running is of limited value when you don't get on base.

This signing is easily in the top three of immediate negative visceral reactions to Sox signings for me, if not number one. I cannot see this working out unless its followed by a good Ellsbury trade and getting a real RFer.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4317112)
While we are discussing the OF - any hope Kalish can be the secret weapon righty-killer part-time player?
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4317115)
Good base running is of limited value when you don't get on base.
Yup, and if Shane Victorino doesn't get on base, he won't be of much value at all. However, his 5/4/3 projected OBP is .333, which is just about exactly league average for a right fielder in Fenway Park.
   9. plim Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:08 PM (#4317128)
according to mlbtraderumors, it's a done deal: 3/39. Assuming Salty gets traded for some pitching, i guess our lineup looks something like this now:

Ellsbury / Victorino / Pedroia / Ortiz / Napoli / Gomes / Middlebrooks / Lavarnway / Iglesias

Lots of speed up top, but not a lot of OBP. There's a lot of question marks in the middle: which victorino, napoli, and gomes are we going to get? Will Middlebrooks (pun intended), Ortiz and Ellsbury bounce back from injury? And so far, two black holes at the end of the lineup.

despite the offense not being the sox' biggest problem last year, this new lineup doesn't exactly strike fear in my heart...
   10. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:10 PM (#4317133)
Yup, and if Shane Victorino doesn't get on base, he won't be of much value at all. However, his 5/4/3 projected OBP is .333, which is just about exactly league average for a right fielder in Fenway Park.


Shane Victorino, last 3 seasons against RHP: .244/.311/.387. He doesn't get on base against RHP. You know, those pitchers you face the majority of the time.
   11. plim Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4317141)
Shane Victorino, last 3 seasons against RHP: .244/.311/.387. He doesn't get on base against RHP. You know, those pitchers you face the majority of the time.


same thing with Johnny Gomes. His career split vs righties is .225/.318/.436. Ross had a similar split too.

And for some reason, Napoli last year struggled against lefties (.215/.338/.446 vs a career split of .275/.384/.535).
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM (#4317144)
Shane Victorino, last 3 seasons against RHP: .244/.311/.387. He doesn't get on base against RHP. You know, those pitchers you face the majority of the time.
450 PA with a humongous BABIP split. Not something I'd put much faith in.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:17 PM (#4317150)
And for some reason, Napoli last year struggled against lefties (.215/.338/.446 vs a career split of .275/.384/.535).
Platoon splits need both large sample sizes and significant regression to be predictive. Cutting a season up into 150 PA chunks is a guaranteed way to produce weird, random results.
   14. plim Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4317154)
Platoon splits need both large sample sizes and significant regression to be predictive. Cutting a season up into 150 PA chunks is a guaranteed way to produce weird, random results.


I certainly hope so. And it was only one year. But overall, there's still a ton of questions in the lineup, starting with Napoli. He suffers from good/bad year off-years, and obviously is a huge question on how he'll adapt to playing 1b every day. I think Napoli's contract was fair. But Victorino, it just doesn't pass the sniff test. is 13m the new norm for a league average player (his career ops+ is 102).
   15. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4317161)
450 PA with a humongous BABIP split. Not something I'd put much faith in.


Those are his combined numbers against RHP over the last three seasons combined. So no, not 450 unlucky PA, but rather 1231 ABs of complete #### hitting.
   16. Joel W Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4317164)
I didn't know at bats against lefties didn't count.
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4317169)
Those are his combined numbers against RHP over the last three seasons combined. So no, not 450 unlucky PA, but rather 1231 ABs of complete #### hitting.
With about a .260 BABIP. While putting up a .350 BABIP from the right side. Looks like mostly a fluke to me.
   18. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4317171)
At bats against lefties count. And when Gomes and Victorino (and to a lesser extent Napoli) get to face left-handed pitching, they will probably take advantage of the situation and rake. But if they're all being counted on to play everyday, that's kind of an issue that they don't hit right-handed pitching, and it somewhat impacts a guy living up to a $40M contract if he can't hit 2/3 of the pitchers in MLB.
   19. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:34 PM (#4317179)
Gomes is clearly going to be platooned in LF, and Mike Napoli's career split is 911/845. I don't see any reason to worry about them.

I get being concerned about Victorino's splits, but it's still a lot for me to take those numbers at face value. (Especially when so much of the rest of the case against Victorino is predicated on not taking his overall numbers at face value.)
   20. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4317182)
Ellsbury / Victorino / Pedroia / Ortiz / Napoli / Gomes / Middlebrooks / Lavarnway / Iglesias

I'm sorry, but unless your rotation is Felix, Lester, Buchholz, Sanchez and Jackson, this team will be sucking on the lemon of mediocrity. 79 wins, here we come!
   21. Joel W Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4317184)
And Ortiz and Ellsbury should be expected to hit righties pretty well, with Pedroia expected to hit both well. They'll get 4th and 5th outfielders who can play some of the year against the opposite hand. Napoli has slugged .500 against righties for his career and has a pretty normal split in that regard. It seems like folly to worry about a team's overall platoon issues (rather than lineup construction issues). They have righties and lefties, they won't be that outside the norm either way.
   22. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4317195)
This is the most uninspiring signing ever. At least he's entering his mid-30s off a terrible season!
   23. Darren Posted: December 04, 2012 at 10:56 PM (#4317276)
Well, here's one way to look at it: The Sox unloaded 3 guys who projected to something like 9-10 WAR at the cost of $60M/year. So far, they've replaced two of them with guys who project to put up 6 WAR at cost of $26M per year. It's not very exciting, but it's better than where they were.

They could very well have decided that Hamilton (at 6/140?) would just not be worth it, and that they're better off going with reliably good players than overpaying. They may figure there will be better trades down the road, or that Hamilton's price will come down, and/or that they can deal Ellsbury for a good SS.

This deal isn't bad, but as MCOA notes, it requires us to trust the Sox talent evaluation, which is a difficult thing to do.

   24. Darren Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4317289)
And this is probably a better place to clarify my fears that they are repeating their mistake of fetishizing depth over star players. The signing of Gomes and the talk of bringing back Cody Ross plus the signing of good but not great Victorino is reminiscent of getting Cameron and Hall and Hermida and feeling clever instead of just signing Holiday or getting Penny + Smoltz on supersmart deals instead of just getting one actually good starter. Now, part of that is probably the whole "everything they do is wrong" feeling seeping in, but it is a concern.
   25. Honkie Kong Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4317290)
Not a usual poster to Sox Therapy, but this signing intrigued. My off the bat reaction was that this is insane, so was curious to see some reasoned defence for this.

Few thoughts/questions.

a) As Dan mentioned, baserunning value is tied to OBP, but since this is a back of the envelope projection, think we can ignore that for now.

b) Switch hitters are notorious for losing it from one side ( completely or for a long time ). Having followed Chipper for a long time, he of the almost identical stats from both sides, he used to always complain how he was uncomfortable hitting from one side at some point in the season. Switch hitting requires you to put in work to maintain 2 different swings! Thats hard.
And sometimes, a low BABIP is not luck but an indicator of weak contact. Maybe Victorino has just lost his LH swing.

c) The average defence number is a bit surprising too. Victorino was a fantastic defender when younger, but he lost more than a step, and he never had the greatest instincts. Over the past couple of seasons, he has "looked" less than average in CF ( Philly fans can chime in with more info there ). The eyeball test is fraught with danger, but it will be something to look at how he tackles the huge RF in Fenway.

d) The average RF line looks low. Is that for AL or the league? The AL seems to be going through a phase where they have lousy shortstops and RFs.

e) Is the $/Win really that important to the Sox? Wouldn't they rather have 4 more wins? Esp with the second wild card throwing a wrench in traditional team success valuation perceptions.

   26. Darren Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4317294)
The Sox would probably rather pay a bit more per win for a 5-6 win player, but how many others are out there? Just Hamilton, really.
   27. Dan Posted: December 05, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4317357)
Meanwhile the Rays trade nothing of substance ans acquire Yunel Escobar to fill their hole at SS.
   28. Nasty Nate Posted: December 05, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4317438)
Meanwhile the Rays trade nothing of substance ans acquire Yunel Escobar to fill their hole at SS.


To try to imbue some positivity, I will point out that the Rays also have one James Loney at the top of their 1B depth chart.
   29. Bug Selig Posted: December 05, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4317442)
I get being concerned about Victorino's splits, but it's still a lot for me to take those numbers at face value.


Maybe telling bad switch-hitters to stop dicking around and hit from their natural side is the new market inefficiency!
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 05, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4317456)
I think this deal is fair, if a trade of Ellsbury follows. I don't like using Victorino in RF. Really not sure how his defense will translate.
   31. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: December 05, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4317522)
To try to imbue some positivity, I will point out that the Rays also have one James Loney at the top of their 1B depth chart.

Considering they turned Casey Kotchman and Jeff Keppinger in 127 OPS+ players for a year, something tells me they know what they're doing with Loney.
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: December 05, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4317532)
To try to imbue some positivity, I will point out that the Rays also have one James Loney at the top of their 1B depth chart.

Considering they turned Casey Kotchman and Jeff Keppinger in 127 OPS+ players for a year, something tells me they know what they're doing with Loney.


I think you have boiled down the justifiable pessimism about the Sox. All indications are that the Rays know what they are doing, and that the Sox do not. (not necessarily playing Loney instead of Napoli, but in general)

I was discouraged by some quotes from John Farrell about where Napoli would play:

"Again, if this is finalized, we see him as a first baseman primarily, but with the ability to catch and to acclimate him to our pitchers in spring training. One of the things we would do, provided all this goes through, is that we would have him catch in spring training early on, but then certainly make sure that we've got enough reps at first base for not only him to feel comfortable there, but for us as well."

I don't like to put too much stock into off-season quotes, but if he is sincere this sounds like they would be getting the worst of both worlds: burdening Napoli with the preparations of catching and having him catch in spring training, but not actually using him as a catcher much. I think they should either do one or the other; either tell him not even to bring a catcher's mitt to florida, or have him start at catcher the 50-70 games that he is accustomed.
   33. Sean Forman Posted: December 05, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4317568)
I think you guys are stuck in the early 2000's mode of evaluating hitting and salary. We've dropped 60 points of OPS since then and it doesn't appear to be coming back. 3yr $39m is damn near what you would expect to pay a league average player on the FA market.

Victorino wasn't stellar last year, but he was fabulous the year before and decent the year before that. I watched about 20 Phillies games a year and his instincts aren't that great, but he gets to a lot of balls, has a great arm, and is a successful baserunner. I think for what they paid he'll be a decent signing. I think if you view he and Napoli as a set you are likely to get 2 great years, 2 average years and 2 below average years. I see nothing wrong with that for $80m over 3 years.

Year    R/G   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
2012   4.32 .255 .319 .405 .724
2011   4.28 .255 .321 .399 .720
2010   4.38 .257 .325 .403 .728
2009   4.61 .262 .333 .418 .751
2008   4.65 .264 .333 .416 .749
2007   4.80 .268 .336 .423 .758
2006   4.86 .269 .337 .432 .768
2005   4.59 .264 .330 .419 .749
2004   4.81 .266 .335 .428 .763
2003   4.73 .264 .333 .422 .755
2002   4.62 .261 .331 .417 .748
2001   4.78 .264 .332 .427 .759
2000   5.14 .270 .345 .437 .782
1999   5.08 .271 .345 .434 .778 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/5/2012.
   34. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 05, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4317604)
I don't think the issue is that we aren't confident in the cost/WAR calculations, it's that we're not confident Victorino is going to be that good. I am confident that Napoli is going to rebound from 2012, I'm not nearly as confident that Victorino will.
   35. Rough Carrigan Posted: December 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4317648)
There has been some talk that Victorino played through a minor wrist injury last year. If that's true and he's healthy in the future, this deal might look a good bit better.
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: December 05, 2012 at 01:08 PM (#4317680)
I think you guys are stuck in the early 2000's mode of evaluating hitting and salary. We've dropped 60 points of OPS since then and it doesn't appear to be coming back. 3yr $39m is damn near what you would expect to pay a league average player on the FA market.


So you're saying that, instead of being doom-and-gloom about these signings and the offense, everyone should be doom-and-gloom about the pitching staff because the low scoring environment is masking their failings?
   37. villageidiom Posted: December 05, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4317815)
There has been some talk that Victorino played through a minor wrist injury last year. If that's true and he's healthy in the future, this deal might look a good bit better.
I damn well better be hearing come spring that he's in the best shape of his life.
   38. Darren Posted: December 05, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4318259)
Friends, let's embrace our deepest fears: What if Victorino has actually tanked as a player? What if next year, he repeats his 2012 performance? A rotten .321 OBP and a sub-.400 SLG! Well, then the Red Sox will be stuck with a guy who is only worth 2.4 bWAR/3.3 fWAR for $13M. Run for the hills! Hide your children!

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