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   1. Valentine Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:35 AM (#2643146)
Lester can be traded in a separate deal, and I would be SHOCKED if he didn't have more trade value than Lowrie/Masterson/????.

If the Red Sox get Santana for a package centered around Lester and Crisp, their dealing is done. If they get Santana for a package centered around Ellsbury, they are likely to pursue another trade -- possibly for a young catcher?
   2. OCD SS Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2643148)
"OR."

Lester vs Masterson/Lowrie leaves kind of assumes that the latter two are guaranteed to be productive big leaguers. Since both have significant downsides: Lowrie could wind up at 2B, a position the Sox have filled; and Masterson could wind up in the pen. A blocked player and a relief pitcher combined are probably not worth as much as a LH starter.
   3. Darren Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2643152)
Lester vs Masterson/Lowrie leaves kind of assumes that the latter two are guaranteed to be productive big leaguers.


Well there's no *guarantee* that Lester's going to be productive either. I'm not assuming anything here. I'm saying that have value of some kind, not that they're proven Major Leaguers.

Lowrie could wind up at 2B, a position the Sox have filled; and Masterson could wind up in the pen.


These are far larger assumptions than what I made.

A blocked player and a relief pitcher combined are probably not worth as much as a LH starter.


If the trade happens, Lester is blocked too (or he's forcing someone else to be).
   4. Darren Posted: December 13, 2007 at 02:45 AM (#2643154)
Lester can be traded in a separate deal, and I would be SHOCKED if he didn't have more trade value than Lowrie/Masterson/????.


That's a fair point. Not sure it's a lot more value but it's more.
   5. OCD SS Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:34 AM (#2643189)
Well there's no *guarantee* that Lester's going to be productive either. I'm not assuming anything here. I'm saying that have value of some kind, not that they're proven Major Leaguers.


Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but Lester has at least shown that he can be a productive major league starting pitcher. I assume that you're making assumptions based on the question you posted: You're comparing a 22-23 yr old LH SP who put up an ERA+ of 100 and 104 while calling Fenway his home park vs a SS with half a season in AAA and a pitcher who just got to AA. The only way you can look at their current values and think that the minor league guys have more value is to consider their potential. And imo if you are considering their potential then you also have to consider that they will not reach their projected ceilings; hence my consideration of what might be a reasonable "floor" (while not assuming anything like a catastrophic career ending injury for any of them).

If the trade happens, Lester is blocked too (or he's forcing someone else to be).


I sort of assume that Valentine's analysis would play out and Lester would serve as a better trade piece to acquire what they might have shopped Crisp for. Even if that isn't the case, Lester is only "blocking" someone for one year (with Schilling and maybe even Wake not likely to return in '09, nevermind that pitching depth tends not leave anyone blocked when attrition and injuries are factored in.
   6. Marcel Posted: December 13, 2007 at 05:10 AM (#2643328)
While, from a purely business point of view, Lester would be more expedable if they aquired Santana, I would still hate to seem him go personally. He has the stuff and the track record to put it all together one of these days and be a frontline pitcher and I would love to see him do it in a Red Sox uniform. However, Ellsbury and Lester makes sense as a trade offer to the Twins since Santana would likely push Lester out of the rotation anyways. And although I know that half of Red Sox nation would cry themselves to sleep if Ellsbury was traded, I don't really see the huge dropoff from him to Crisp. I don't see him as being that much better than Crisp offensively (who, it should be noted, is really better than he's shown since his finger injury. not way better, but better none-the-less) and it would be nearly impossible to be better defensively than Crisp was last year.
   7. MSI Posted: December 13, 2007 at 06:13 AM (#2643385)
All this talk is blowing smoke. You Red Sox fans are crazy to think Ellsbury AND Lester is enough to get a Johan deal done, let alone Ellsbury OR Lester (plus others). It's not gonna happen. The Red Sox are just trying to build leverage. The only way the Twins would trade the best pitcher in baseball to a contender in the same league, and allow him to be extended, is if the package of prospects blows them out of the water. Getting Johan for 1 year is hugely valuable if he is extended - because the opportunity to sign the best pitcher rarely comes up, especially when you "steal" him from your inter-division rivals (Yankees). Anyway, there is a lot of negotiations going on that the average fan is not aware of. I'd rather trade Santana for Phil Hughes and Melky 10 times over then Lester and Ellsbury. Ellsbury is also overhyped: it's amazing what a few good months will do for a prospects value as a commodity. To get Johan, it would take at least 1 A or A+ prospects, plus a solid package of other ones.
   8. plink Posted: December 13, 2007 at 07:24 AM (#2643426)
I'd rather trade Santana for Phil Hughes and Melky 10 times over then Lester and Ellsbury.


It seems that the Twins' front office disagrees with you. We wouldn't be discussing it if the Twins hadn't made it clear that they like Lester/Ellsbury more than Hughes/Cabrera.
   9. alskor Posted: December 13, 2007 at 07:25 AM (#2643427)
Cant say I agree with #7.

If Lester AND Ellsbury were the best offer the Twins received youre telling me they would hold onto Santana and take draft picks that are worth less than Lester and Ellsbury? For what? Spite? Not gonna happen.

Also, both Lester and Ellsbury are "A" prospects. Lester was graded an A by Sickels and last year Ellsbury was a B+... since then he's done nothing but phenomenally improve his profile as a prospect, hitting .455 in AA and close to .350 in the majors. He is certain to be an A this year(Sickels' 2008 Red Sox rankings are being released tommorow on minorleagueball.com).

If anyone is overrated and not worth trading for its Melky, IMHO. I agree Id rather have Hughes than Lester or Ellsbury, but no one in their right mind would take him over both, especially when the Sox are offering better complementary prospects(Lowrie or Masterson >>> Marquez).

I do agree Ellsbury has been a bit overhyped but he's a phenomenal prospect and major league ready.
   10. Dan Posted: December 13, 2007 at 08:25 AM (#2643447)
I believe that the Red Sox are trying to use the Ellsbury or Lester gambit to railroad the Twins into taking Crisp instead of Ellsbury. They know the Twins really like Lester, so they're saying "well, take the guy with less upside for CF and you can get him," rather than just offering Ellsbury plus Lester and others straightaway. So now it's just kind of down to the wire on who caves first. The Twins have to hope someone else steps up their offer so they can bring that as leverage against Boston to try and get Boston to cave, but Boston is in the catbird's seat because the Red Sox don't need Santana nearly as much as the Twins need to trade him.

That said, both Lester and Ellsbury have extremely high values right now, and rightfully so to some degree. But it's pretty obvious to see that their World Series performances are also inflating their value somewhat, and that's something the Red Sox ought to take advantage of unless they think both or either have a good chance of being "great" rather than "just good."
   11. alskor Posted: December 13, 2007 at 08:34 AM (#2643451)
#10 Dan - I think that makes a lot of sense. I wouldnt be shocked if the next step in negotiations is for Theo to offer to improve the Lester centered offer but hold firm on the Ellsbury based offer. Steering Smith to take Lester over Ellsbury.

As of now, the Sox really shouldnt bid against themselves and no team has really even come close to beating their offer(s). It also seems unlikely that will happen because even if the Yankees decide to reenter the Santana sweepstakes there is good reason to believe they will not offer Hughes or Joba and will try to push a package centered on Ian Kennedy. The Yanks would be hard pressed to put together a Kennedy based package that matches either of the Red Sox offers. Even if they do decide to go "all in" with Kennedy, Tabata, Jackson & Horne, for example, The Sox could reasonably up their offer to beat that(Lester & Ellsbury?)... or just sit back and claim a "victory" having forced the Yankees to empty out the farm.

For now it certainly makes sense for the Twins to wait this out and hope the landscape shifts. Although they do need to trade Santana they dont need to do it just yet.
   12. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: December 13, 2007 at 08:55 AM (#2643457)
I feel bad for trading the cancer dude, but I'd keep Masterson+Lowrie rather than Lester. Lester fills a hole at the back of the rotation, while Masterson could fill the Mike TImlin role as soon as August 08 and Lowrie could fill the Lugo hole as fast as July 08.

Edit: dammit Mets just trade Heilman Pelfrey F-Mart and Gomez for Santana already.
   13. alskor Posted: December 13, 2007 at 08:59 AM (#2643458)
The "Lugo hole?"

EDIT: By that I mean... where's he going?
   14. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: December 13, 2007 at 09:02 AM (#2643460)
EDIT: By that I mean... where's he going?

Either the bench, or hopefully some team who's SS just broke a leg, and we can send Lugo and 12 million dollars to that team for 2 bags of used syringes we can use to shoot up JD Drew so he can get his power back.
   15. Teapot in Space Posted: December 13, 2007 at 03:54 PM (#2643614)
Lowrie could fill the Lugo hole as fast as July 08.


Of course, the problem with this is, once Lowrie slots into the SS position, he's instantly going to suck. SS:Red Sox::drummer:Spinal Tap
   16. Valentine Posted: December 13, 2007 at 06:59 PM (#2644064)
But it's pretty obvious to see that their World Series performances are also inflating their value somewhat, and that's something the Red Sox ought to take advantage of unless they think both or either have a good chance of being "great" rather than "just good."

Both Lester and Ellsbury have, in my book, established themselves as average major league starters. Lester as a #4 pitcher and Ellsbury as a decent defensive CF who can be an asset in the leadoff spot. I suppose there is always a possibility that they might fall short of those levels, but then there's always a possibility that Lugo's average will fall 40 points or that Drew's power will evaporate. I don't think describing Lester and Ellsbury as average starting players is at all a stretch, and there is at least SOME possibility for each of them to improve on that.

Cost of an average player over five years in free agency: $50M-$60M
Cost of paying Ellsbury or Lester over the next five years: $20M
Value of Ellsbury or Lester: $30M+ even if they *don't* improve.
Value considering their potential upside: $50M+

You can fill in the above with your own numbers, but I think the principle is sound -- cost-controlled prospects who have already established credentials as major league regulars are valuable. They don't have to become great players to be worth a whole lot more (to a cost-constrained team) than one year of a superstar.

As for the "opportunity" to sign Santana long term? Hard to put a price on that, especially without knowing how reasonable he'll be in the negotiations. Big difference between a $115M/5yr extension and a $175M/7yr contract, and either is plausible.
   17. Kyle S Posted: December 13, 2007 at 09:39 PM (#2644561)
What good is the "value" generated by Ellsbury and Lester if you can't spend it? It's not like the Sox are going to dividend that money to their fans. The point of having cheap players is so you can take the money you save and spend it on expensive players. Now that Peavy is signed long term, who's the next available free agent who'll be anywhere close to as good as Santana is?
   18. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 13, 2007 at 09:48 PM (#2644593)
From an overall talent standpoint, the two packages seem reasonably close to each other.

Since this is the only thread here talking about baseball now, I'd take the Ellsbury/Lester package without thinking twice. Lowrie is at best a guy who can stick at the major league level at SS and hit above average for the position. That costs whatever David Eckstein is going to get from the Jays. Masterson could be what, Wang? And those are long odds that he can do that. Stack that up against Lester whose value now is nearly as good as Masterson's upside and who's upside is tremendous, and it's not even close IMO.
   19. Valentine Posted: December 13, 2007 at 11:07 PM (#2644772)
Now that Peavy is signed long term, who's the next available free agent who'll be anywhere close to as good as Santana is?

Mark Teixeira or Vlad Guerrero? Jarrod Saltalamacchia? The Red Sox already have Beckett, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, and Lester under control for several years. Is starting pitching truly a pressing need for this team? More so than right-handed power hitter? Or starting catcher? That "value" represented by Ellsbury and Lester can either be used by the Red Sox themselves (allowing them to sign a free agent) or traded to another team for a cost-controlled player who fills a need elsewhere on the team.

Besides, I wasn't coming out either for or against this deal. I was simply noting that the value represented by Ellsbury/Lester is substantial EVEN IF THEY NEVER BECOME GREAT PLAYERS.
   20. OCD SS Posted: December 14, 2007 at 01:36 AM (#2645048)
Now that Peavy is signed long term, who's the next available free agent who'll be anywhere close to as good as Santana is?


CC Sabathia could hit FA. As a player he should be in the neighborhood of the value discussed.
   21. Marcel Posted: December 14, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2645065)
Kazmir? Or Bedard could wind up in free agency too if the team that trades for him can't get an extension done.
   22. MSI Posted: December 14, 2007 at 05:18 AM (#2645282)
Ellsbury had a 380 BABIP during his 120 or so at bats when he hit 350. He's not going to be a 350 hitter. He's been likened to Johnny Damon, or perhaps Johnny Damon-lite. Does that sound like the centrepiece for Johan Santana? No. It's true that the Red Sox are offering better seconary prospects, but the Twins should settle for no less than a great prospect. They are in the drivers seat because they have the best player. Who knows, maybe they'll extend him, as his requests seem quite reasonable. Or maybe he'll go to the Yankees.
   23. dave h Posted: December 14, 2007 at 05:46 AM (#2645298)
The Twins are by no means in the driver's seat. All they own is the rights to one more year of Santana, and if he walks they get two draft picks. Furthermore, those rights even come with restrictions, since Santana can veto any trade. They pretty much have to take the best trade offered to them by a team Santana is willing to go to and sign an extension with, as long as that's better than the two picks + one year of Santana.
   24. MSI Posted: December 14, 2007 at 05:56 AM (#2645303)
Since a high payroll team would probably sign Santana, they'd probably get a first rounder and the other pick (I think a sandwhich round). That's pretty valuable. As well, they can keep him and try to contend this year...and still get a king's ransom probably at the deadline. And there is always the outside chance that Carl Pohlad opens up the wallet. 6/120 is probably a hometown discount, considering he could get way more.
   25. Darren Posted: December 14, 2007 at 06:07 AM (#2645307)
Since a high payroll team would probably sign Santana, they'd probably get a first rounder and the other pick (I think a sandwhich round).


If the Yanks or Red Sox are signing him, then they're probably getting a 25-30ish pick plus the supp. That's not very valuable--at all. Take a look at Philly's or Rany's draft studies to see just how little chance players in these spots have of turning into Lester or Ellsbury.

As well, they can keep him and try to contend this year...and still get a king's ransom probably at the deadline.


No, they really can't without taking a big risk. Santana's said he wants to be traded now and will veto a trade at the deadline. Even if he agreed in general to be traded at the deadline, Santana still gets to pick his spot.
   26. villageidiom Posted: December 14, 2007 at 04:12 PM (#2645543)
He's been likened to Johnny Damon, or perhaps Johnny Damon-lite. Does that sound like the centrepiece for Johan Santana? No.

Carl Pavano does not sound like the centerpiece for Pedro Martinez. Homer Bush does not sound like the centerpiece for Roger Clemens. Wheeee, I could play this game all day!
   27. MSI Posted: December 14, 2007 at 04:22 PM (#2645559)
Yeah, so those were bad moves. And the Twins aren't stupid. Does it mean they will make bad moves because others have in the past?

Apparently Santana wants 7/140. And the Twins want Bucholz and Ellsbury. A perfectly "reasonable" request. You really think you're going to get him without a package like that? Bucholz is good, but he's not going to throw a no hitter every game. Look at Anibal Sanchez. It's another instance of a short stint raising his value too much.

http://www.startribune.com/sports/vikings/12493231.html
   28. The Essex Snead Posted: December 14, 2007 at 04:27 PM (#2645567)
Of course, the problem with this is, once Lowrie slots into the SS position, he's instantly going to suck. SS:Red Sox::drummer:Spinal Tap

I don't think Nomar's wrist spontaneously combusting makes this analogy true.
   29. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: December 14, 2007 at 04:30 PM (#2645570)
Look at Anibal Sanchez.


Anibal Sanchez is only 24 years old, and his #1 comp is Tim Hudson. He is/was plenty valuable - he just got hurt.
   30. Erik A Posted: December 14, 2007 at 04:58 PM (#2645603)
I don't disagree with anyone on the Red Sox side that some of the proposed packages are too much to give up, but I do think people are underrating Johan's one-year value to the Twins. The Twins are not a bad team a long way from contention. Even with the Tigers upgrades, the Johan-Liriano combo gives the Twins as much of a chance as anyone of winning the Central or taking the wildcard. I don't think they are looking to punt 2008. They were willing to trade Santana if it looked like some team would give them the pieces to seriously upgrade the offense and keep the pitching intact. No one has stepped forward with such an offer.

The relative value of Santana to the Red Sox and Twins makes it seem like a deal is going to be extremely difficult to swing.
   31. Valentine Posted: December 14, 2007 at 05:30 PM (#2645635)
Erik makes a very good point. I think BP estimated that the value of making the playoffs is around $30M (on average). If the Twins can make the playoffs this year, then keeping Santana could be as profitable as trading him for any of the packages rumored thus far.

Re: Anibal Sanchez

* He had a history of arm problems before the trade. IIRC he was shut down multiple times with soreness.

* The Marlins pushed him VERY hard in 2006, basically guaranteeing that he would require surgery. Sooner or later a player in this situation will sue the club for gross mismanagement.
   32. OCD SS Posted: December 14, 2007 at 06:21 PM (#2645691)
Apparently Santana wants 7/140. And the Twins want Bucholz and Ellsbury. A perfectly "reasonable" request. You really think you're going to get him without a package like that?


Actually, Yes. At this point, who else is in the bidding? What reason do the Sox have to up their bid, if no one is driving the price higher? The Sox have the best offer on the table, and 3-4 ML ready players is much better than 2 draft picks.

You're acting like Santana's contract demands are not going to put off other clubs, but not even the super-rich teams in the running for him is that blase about handing out a 7 yr deal at that money.

You make a good point about pitching prospects potentially getting hurt, why does that not also apply to Santana? He did exhibit some warning signs last year. IMO the risk is a lot greater for the team acquiring a single player as 1) there is no other player coming back that can contribute and 2) that risk is attached to a $140M+ commitment.
   33. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 14, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2645701)
That costs whatever David Eckstein is going to get from the Jays.

Can we stop comparing every white Red Sox middle infield prospect who went to college with Eckstein?

AGE 23:
Lowrie .300/.390/.500 in AA/AAA (2/3 / 1/3)
Eckstein .306/.428/.398 in A+

And Eckstein has hit below average (OPS+) for an ML shortstop three out of the last five years, average for one, and above for one (2005). (Note: he has been relatively OBP).

Jed Lowrie, 24-28, will be worth much more than whatever Eckstein is making this year.
   34. Dan Posted: December 14, 2007 at 07:29 PM (#2645774)
Even with the Tigers upgrades, the Johan-Liriano combo gives the Twins as much of a chance as anyone of winning the Central or taking the wildcard.


Do you honestly believe this? Assuming one of the Red Sox or Yankees takes the East, that means the Twins would have to beat either both Cleveland and Detroit, or one of those and the loser of the East. The Twins are nowhere near matching up with any of these 4 teams on paper. Their lineup outside of Mauer and Morneau is absolutely brutal. Young might have a breakout year, Cuddyer might bounce back, but outside of that, they have absolutely no one who is even close to league average at their position.
   35. Erik A Posted: December 14, 2007 at 07:34 PM (#2645780)
ocd ss: I think you have the Red Sox thinking pegged perfectly. Why would you give up Bucholz and Ellsbury for a one-year upgrade in the rotation, especially when you've got a playoff caliber team already? However, I think you are making a mistake in assuming that Santana's value is the same for the Twins. Santana could literally be the difference between contention and non-contention for the Twins this year, unless they get back an outrageous return in trade. That's why I don't think the Red Sox and Twins are necessarily good trading partners here.
   36. Erik A Posted: December 14, 2007 at 07:41 PM (#2645788)
Dan: yes I do believe that, and more importantly I think the Twins believe it as well. I think the Twins were one of the big disappointments in the AL last year. With the exception of Hunter, every Twins position player had a down year offensively. Looking forward to 2008 (assuming the don't trade Santana), they have the best 1-2 combo in baseball, one of the best bullpens, and probably one of the best defenses as well. They'll probably be a poor offensive team as well, but I find it hard to believe that they will be nearly as bad as they were last year. This was an offense dragged down by some historically bad performances, which should be fairly easy to upgrade (whether or not they do that is another question...).
   37. Dan Posted: December 14, 2007 at 07:59 PM (#2645810)
I wouldn't say the Twins have no shot at the playoffs next year, but to say they have "as much of a chance as anyone of winning the Central or taking the wildcard" is absolutely absurd.

While the Twins had absolutely horrid performance from Punto at 3B and Tyner for a corner OF, as well as many other guys, it's not as if they have any options that aren't going to still suck at at least 2 of the 3 non-1B infield positions. Delmon Young is likely to be below average with the stick at a corner and a minus defender if used in CF. Assuming Harris is the fulltime 2B, he's probably a wash vs Castillo, and an upgrade on 2B for the non-Castillo ABs. But then you're looking at a downgrade from Bartlett at SS in Casilla or the other options. And while it will be easy to upgrade from Punto's atrocious 52 OPS+ at 3B in 2007, the replacement is still likely to suck. The Twins don't have anyone in their systems to fill these holes above replacement level production, and that is absolutely going to kill them. Their only options for improving markedly from the dreck they handed at-bats to in 2007 will involve weakening their pitching by trades.
   38. Erik A Posted: December 14, 2007 at 08:42 PM (#2645843)
Well, its definitely still early in the offseason and I haven't crunched any numbers at this point, so its hard to make anything more than vague claims, but I would argue the Twins case as:

Twins were basically a .500 team last year. They finished 4th in the league in ERA (725 runs allowd), and third to last in offensive runs per game (718 runs scored). In 2006, when they won 96 games, those numbers were 683 and 801. Are those numbers possible this year? I guess the more I look at it, I would have to say: it depends. They got -60 VORP from Punto, Casilla, Rondell White and Luis Rodriguez last year, plus down years from Mauer/Morneau/Cuddyer. However, they got positive contributions from Hunter and Bartlett. And it looks like Bartlett is being replaced by Adam Everett, which is never good for the offense. So, perhaps expecting the Twins to be as good as Detroit or Cleveland is a stretch. However, they seem within striking distance, depending on what they find from 3B and CF.
   39. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 14, 2007 at 08:51 PM (#2645848)
Jed Lowrie, 24-28, will be worth much more than whatever Eckstein is making this year.

From Kevin Goldstein's free Future Shock on the Red Sox:

The Good: Lowrie is an on-base machine. His approach is highly advanced, as he works the count well, and recognizes which pitches he can drive into the gap. His makeup is off the charts--he’s a baseball grinder who plays and practices with an infectious all-out style. Defensively, he’s fundamentally sound and features a solid, accurate arm.
The Bad: Scouts’ opinions of Lowrie vary wildly, with some seeing him as an everyday big league shortstop, and others seeing him as no more than a very good utility player. There is little doubt that with Lowrie’s average speed and slow first step that his range is a little short to play on the left side of an infield in the big leagues.
Fun Fact: Lowrie is just one of 21 first-round picks to come out of the Stanford baseball program.
Perfect World Projection: A starting shortstop, though second base is more likely.


There's nothing in there that suggests he's going to be much, if any better then Eckstein, who has been a good player at times in his career. Choosing Eckstein was purely coincidence, I was looking for a glove between SS and 2nd with a bat that would play well there. Eckstein, for his career has been right around average with the stick at SS. I could have said Mark Grudzelanik (sp?).
   40. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2007 at 09:02 PM (#2645862)
There's nothing in there that suggests he's going to be much, if any better then Eckstein, who has been a good player at times in his career.
Now, the first point is that you're right that a large number, probably a majority, of the scouting community don't think that Jed Lowrie is a shortstop. If he can't handle that position in the major leagues, he's a very different kind of player. He's not even close to being a lock to have a successful major league career.

On the other hand, there have been a number of very positive internal reports that the Red Sox org thinks he's a kickass shortstop. So, Goldstein's two sentences in "the bad" are either contradictory, or leave open quite a bit of space for Lowrie to be a very good player - those scouts who think highly of Lowrie think he's got enough glove to be a workable shortstop.

Eckstein has put up EqAs of .268, .245, and .267 the last three years. Two of the three are well above average for a shortstop (positional average is .254). If Jed Lowrie had David Eckstein's career, that would be a very positive outcome.

EDIT: And David Eckstein has been severely underrated his entire career. Sure, Tim McCarver gushes over him, but in the end, his highest arbitration award was $2.1M, his largest contract was 3 years, 10M, and he just signed for 1 year 4.5M. Most solidly above-average players make more money than that. He's had a weird little career, where his media evaluation is wildly different from his objective evaluation in the market.
   41. Cowboy Popup Posted: December 14, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2645868)
If Jed Lowrie had David Eckstein's career, that would be a very positive outcome.

Right, I didn't mean to imply it wasn't, I just wanted to point out that good players at second are relatively cheap compared to other positions, lowering the value of Lowrie's cost controlled years. And I'm also not nearly as up on the scouting info as you are obviously (thanks for the info btw).
   42. MSI Posted: December 14, 2007 at 11:09 PM (#2645994)
The Tigers are not head and shoulder above the Twins. Their defense and bullpen are nothing special. Their rotation hinges on Willis and Rogers, not the surest bets at all, and they have very little depth in the minors or the rotation at this point. The offense could be amazing, but even with Miguel Cabrera, it might not be that much better than last year since regressions are due. As well, their payroll is what, over 120 million right now? Maybe 130 million? They still may shed salary.

The Twins on the other hand have a great defense with Everett, they have Mauer, Morneau, and Delmon Young can add offensively if he breaks out. And the rotation has plenty of depth and upside, with Santana, Liriano, Slowey, Bonser, Baker, Swarzak, Perkins, etc. And the bullpen is good too. THey just need a better 3b and CF, mainly...Craig Monroe is listed as the starting CF on their depth chart. Can he play CF?
   43. Valentine Posted: December 15, 2007 at 12:05 AM (#2646039)
They just need a better 3b and CF, mainly...

Signed Mike Lamb, presumably to play 3B. Crisp would give you a better defensive option in CF, but you don't have to offer Santana to get HIM. :-)
   44. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 15, 2007 at 12:42 AM (#2646098)
Can we get on post on Sickel's Top 20 Red Sox Prospects.

The future at C is not looking good.
   45. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 15, 2007 at 12:48 AM (#2646105)
There's nothing in there that suggests he's going to be much, if any better then Eckstein, who has been a good player at times in his career.

Except that his approach at the plate was described as "very advanced", which when compared to Eckstein's path makes him seem much better. Eck was hitting .364/.301 in AAA at age 25 when he was released by the Red Sox. Lowrie will better than that if he is given the chance in the Majors.
   46. Valentine Posted: December 15, 2007 at 01:25 AM (#2646134)
Can we please stop comparing Lowrie and Eckstein? Eckstein is one of the shortest players in baseball. He makes good contact and walks a lot, but that is his entire offensive game. Lowrie is a more conventional prospect. Strikes out more, but he also has real line drive power -- good for 13 home runs last year. The CHONE projections for Chase Headley and Jed Lowrie are very similar.
   47. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 15, 2007 at 01:31 AM (#2646138)
EDIT: Eck was dropped from the 40-man roster.
   48. drivlikejehu Posted: December 15, 2007 at 02:46 AM (#2646187)
As a Twins fan, I'm generally pessimistic about competing in 2008, but it certainly is a possibility with Santana. The lineup is conspicuously lacking a lead-off hitter/CF but otherwise should be OK. The key to the Young acquisition wasn't that he will be particularly great right away; the main benefit was to fix the black hole the Twins have had at DH by moving Kubel there. And Kubel is a guy that is way under the radar because he was rusty coming back from injury. Post all-star break, he hit .303/.379/.511, which is the kind of production expected of him before his knee was shredded every which way in the AFL a couple years ago.

Offensively, the Twins should be way above average at C (Mauer), above average at 1B (Morneau) and DH (Kubel), average at 2B (Harris), 3B (Lamb), and RF (Cuddyer), somewhat below average in LF (Young), way below at SS (Everett), and CF is open. With a decent CF, the offense could definitely be around average.

With Santana, the rotation could be very good and the bullpen has been excellent for a number of years. A top-notch pitching staff and average offense would put the Twins in position to compete in the AL Central. Obviously it's not a real strong likelihood, but it has to be considered when talking about the return on Santana. The Twins would be giving up a year of potential contention and the attendance that goes along with that-- including the walk-up sales that are greatly increased when Santana is starting. Also, losing a player to free agency is probably less harmful to fan goodwill than trading him.

Ultimately, I think the Twins will trade him because competing in '09 onward, with the park opening in '10, is more important than competing in '08. But they won't just take the highest offer, if it is unsatisfactory. I'm hoping that the Haren deal, combined perhaps with Kuroda signing soon, will spur the Santana trade market.
   49. OCD SS Posted: December 15, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2646441)
However, I think you are making a mistake in assuming that Santana's value is the same for the Twins. Santana could literally be the difference between contention and non-contention for the Twins this year, unless they get back an outrageous return in trade. That's why I don't think the Red Sox and Twins are necessarily good trading partners here.


I don't disagree with this, however my thinking on the Twins side is that trading Santana forces them into an either/or choice:

They can play to be in contention with one year of Johan, and then get 2 draft picks and likely regress significantly or they can trade him with an eye to filling several holes on their club for the '09-'10 seasons as they leave the Metrodome and enter their new stadium (assuming that most of the prospects are going to need to adjust to MLB).

The only way I can see them satisfying immediate and future desires for competition is to sign Santana long term and their ownership appears to be too cheap to do that.

The Twins are trying to achieve the above by getting a mega-package for Santana, and I don't think that is possible because of his contract demands. That limits the Twin's options to essentially 3 teams, and none of these teams will give up that package. The Sox and Yanks are thinking the same way, and the Mets are in a worse position for having a worse farm system and being unwilling to give up Reyes.

The issue isn't that the Twins and Sox match up poorly as trade partners; the problem is that the third party in this deal, Johan Santana, matches up poorly with the Twins.
   50. The Answer to the TWolves (GMoney) Posted: December 15, 2007 at 04:14 PM (#2646458)
Quick crunching of the numbers using ZiPS as the projection system and Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool gives the following. I also gave the Twins Kenny Lofton on a 1 year deal and hitting OBP .350 and SLG .390 in the leadoff spot. So this lineup as the main lineup for the team.

1. Lofton 350/390
2. Lamb 345/435
3. Mauer 405/460
4. Cuddyer 350/430
5. Morneau 355/530
6. Young 325/430
7. Kubel 330/440
8. Harris 330/410
9. Everett 285/335

According the Musings projection model this lineup would score 5.037 runs per game or 815 runs in a season. Knock off a few runs for days when guys like Mauer and Lofton have to rest and days when Punto fills in around the infield and say they would sccore in the range of 775 runs. That would have placed them 9th last year so still below average. But an improement of around 60 runs versus last year. I found this projection model interesting as it says the most effective way to build a lineup is to have your worst hitter bating in the 8th spot. I guess they figure if your number 9 guy gets on base quite a bit the top of your order guys have a better chance to drive him in.
   51. ncat Posted: December 15, 2007 at 04:14 PM (#2646459)
I'm not convinced that the Sox management can close the deal for Johan. Can the Yankee organization afford to allow the current World Champions, that are primarily intact for 2008, to aquire probably the best left handed starter in the game today? I doubt it and my guess is so does Theo. No one in Red Sox nation wants to see Lester or Ellsbury go. To a point they have both proven that they have the tools to compete at the major league level and have shown that they fit well in the Sox organization. The need to put players of that caliber on the block is to raise the bar to the Yankees. If they are going to interupt the deal it is going to be costly for them. Either way the Sox win.
   52. OCD SS Posted: December 15, 2007 at 04:52 PM (#2646484)
I'm not convinced that the Sox management can close the deal for Johan.


Compared to the Yankees, the Sox have a lot more positional talent close to the majors; the Yankees have more pitchers, the issue is how many of them are actually on the table. Look at how you would have to project the Yankees rotation's IP totals with and without Santana. With Joba off the table and Hughes in the deal, Kennedy would actually need to take a fair number of IP that would otherwise be given to guys like Igawa, or the Yankees would need to sign someone like Silva.

I think this makes it at least unlikely that Hank will ride in at the 11th hour with a Huges/Melky/Kennedy package, and even then he'll have to dismount, tie up his horse, and wait around while the Twins shop it around and see if the Sox will offer Ellsbury and Lester in the same package.

Right now the Sox could try and close the deal, upping their bid against the possibility that the Twins would keep him and he'll hit FA for the Yankees to sign next year. Given that quite a few big market teams will be in the bidding (Mets) I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that Hank gets him, and I don't think that it is worth that much to the Sox to add more talent to the offer.
   53. ncat Posted: December 15, 2007 at 05:31 PM (#2646519)
I agree that it is not worth adding more to the pot. It was a poor choice of words to say they couldn't close the deal. My point was that Theo is most likely hedging the effort to be more costly to the Yankees, as well as any others, if they choose to want Santana.
   54. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 15, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2646606)
No one in Red Sox nation wants to see Lester or Ellsbury go.

Except for the people who do. Santana is a huge improvement over Lester while losing no depth and Crisp is a good alternative to Ellsbury. What is the big deal with these two?

To a point they have both proven that they have the tools to compete at the major league level and have shown that they fit well in the Sox organization.

A very small point for Ellsbury and Lester has walked 74 in 144 IP. These two are sure things and Santana would fit a lot better in the Red Sox organization.

Yankees will talk about Santana if they can get rid of Matsui's contract. Philly and San Diego are possible.
   55. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: December 15, 2007 at 07:11 PM (#2646613)
Philly and San Diego are possible.

San Diego is unlikely, they just picked up Edmonds.
   56. Valentine Posted: December 15, 2007 at 07:39 PM (#2646650)
Santana is at best a four-win improvement over Lester, and Ellsbury is better than Crisp (eating into that improvement). I have a hard time seeing how a two- or three-win improvement justifies adding $25M to the payroll. (The economics are better if only one of of the two is included.)

The equation is very different when no major-league-ready talent is included (as in the Haren deal).
   57. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 16, 2007 at 12:38 AM (#2646887)
It isn't an argument about the win improvement. The point is the ncat's claim that nobody in RSN wants to trade Ellsbury OR Lester is silly.
   58. The Answer to the TWolves (GMoney) Posted: December 16, 2007 at 01:57 AM (#2646951)
Johan is a 2-3 win improvement for the Yankees most likely too. So if one thinks that the Red Sox and Yankees are the only ones bidding for his services in effect it's a 4-6 game improvement on your closest competition for either the Red Sox or the Yankees.

Just make this a three way deal if they need to shed Matsui

Yankees get Johan
Phillies get Matsui
Twins get Hughes, Melky, Carlos Carrasco, maybe another lower level guy from the Phillies farm system
   59. Eric M. Van Posted: December 16, 2007 at 02:24 AM (#2646976)
The one really amusing assertion in these discussions (amusing because it's mostly made by Yankees fans upset that the Twins like the Red Sox offers better, although I've also heard it from Twins fans) is that the Twins must get a potential impact player in return for Santana, hence neither Ellsbury nor Lester can be the centerpiece of a trade, just Hughes. Was this a law passed by Congress? Didn't the Twins just get a potential superstar from the Rays without having to give one up? The Twins have multiple holes and there's no law of nature that says that a trade for a potential superstar (and nothing else of probable real value) is automatically better than a trade for three or four guys who are very likely to be at least good.
   60. The Answer to the TWolves (GMoney) Posted: December 16, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2646998)
I'm a Twins fan and like the Red Sox package better assuming it's Ellsbury, Lowrie, Masterson, another prospect (Tejeda would be nice) but Kalish would work. I think Hughes is the best of the players being rumored easily but I'd rather have Lowrie or Ellsbury than Melky. I just think Melky is a 10-15 HR corner outfielder waiting to happen in 2-3 years. Ellsbury may not ever develop power eitehr but I think he can still have good value without ever developing power. Lowrie I think would have to move to 2nd base but could be a solid option there for the Twins in the 2nd half of the season or in 2009.
   61. Valentine Posted: December 16, 2007 at 02:48 AM (#2647002)
So if one thinks that the Red Sox and Yankees are the only ones bidding for his services in effect it's a 4-6 game improvement on your closest competition for either the Red Sox or the Yankees.

Along that path lies mediocrity. First, it is ridiculous to think that either the Red Sox or the Yankees can monopolize all the worthwhile talent in baseball. They are the richest two teams, but they are still only two out of thirty. Second, the Red Sox and Yankees have rarely been in direct contention for a playoff spot. I know they are 'supposed' to meet in the ALCS, but as often as not it doesn't work out that way. Third, a bad investment is a bad investment. If the Yankees want to do something stupid, wasting their ridiculous advantage in payroll, why should the Red Sox stand in the way?

Supposedly the Yankees intentionally overbid on Damon to deny him to the Red Sox. I suppose that caused the Red Sox some short-term problems, but the Red Sox had the better CF in 2007 (when you consider defense) and certainly expect to be better in 2008 and beyond as well. The Yankees also out-competed the Red Sox for Contreras, Pavano, Clemens... Who is crying now? It makes sense for the Red Sox to bid just enough to force the Yankees to make a real offer, but the winner in this competition is likely the team that keeps its prospects -- and enough payroll room to compete for the next big name to come down the street.

It doesn't matter who else is involved. It remains a $25M+ expenditure for a two-win improvement (if the Red Sox ever offer both Lester and Ellsbury in the same package). That's a mighty expensive pissing contest.
   62. Eric M. Van Posted: December 16, 2007 at 03:47 AM (#2647035)
Estimating the marginal value of an elite player to an elite team is a tricky business. The better your team already is, the less you can justify improving it in terms of regular-season outcome. Acquiring a player who will improve you from 85 to 90 wins on paper, or from 90 to 95, or from 95 to 100 -- the salary and acquisition expense can all be easily justified. If you're already a 105 win team, though, you really can't justify writing a huge check to win 110. It's all too likely to make no difference.

Going through the post-season and winning a WS, however, is another thing entirely. This is especially true if the player in question is a SP, since pitching and defense are more important than offense in the post-season, and SP usage is leveraged much the same way as relievers are leveraged all year long. A Josh Beckett start and potential shutout has more value if it can be leveraged against a start by an opposing ace rather than randomly distributed against the average opponent start.

So the conventional methods of estimating the value of upgrading from Hughes or Lester to Santana (it's worth X runs in the regular season and costs Y dollars) are going to fall well short of capturing the actual player value, if the goal is to win the WS.
   63. Eric M. Van Posted: December 16, 2007 at 04:05 AM (#2647043)
Oh, and let me complete the equation: it's quite possible that the relationship between team quality and post-season success is not linear. I suspect that if you run a BP-style playoff odds analysis on a post-season that includes one truly dominant, historically great team, the calculated odds for that team are going to understate the real ones.

Now, nobody knows whether this is actually true, and there won't be enough such teams in the historical record to reach any statistical significant conclusions, which means that answering the question is going to involve a deeper understanding of what underlies post-season success than we currently have. (And it occurs to me now that I'm including the '04 Sox but ignoring the '01 Mariners while making this gut-feeling hypothesis, and I honestly don't know if I'm actually including some intuitive sense of what a great post-season team is truly like, or just exhibiting dumb confirmation bias.) But if it is true, it further complicates the cost / benefit equation for the acquisition of elite talent by elite teams.
   64. Valentine Posted: December 16, 2007 at 05:02 AM (#2647086)
Thanks for the thoughtful replies, Eric. Any suggestions on a model for describing the leverage factor of a given matchup? It is intuitively logical that an individual run should be more meaningful in a low-scoring environment, but I'm not sure quite how to put a number to it.

My motivation, naturally, is to estimate the impact of a Lester+Ellsbury/Santana trade on the current Red Sox. One factor that I've noticed is that the definition of "replacement level" changes when you shorten the rotation to 3 1/2 starters. On a team that already has Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Buchholz/Schilling, Lester is likely to see at most one start per series in the post-season. Whereas Santana's starts might replace Lester's starts in the regular season, he would be replacing starts by Buchholz and Schilling in October. Greater leverage, perhaps, but also less of an upgrade over the alternatives.

I'm personally leery of anything that sniffs of confirmation bias. :-) Common opinion holds that the Red Sox won the first two rounds because they had stronger starting pitching -- yet before the series began, many people were giving an advantage to the Angels and Indians in that department. The "Secret Sauce" studies do seem to favor pitching and defense over offense, however even the strongest results in that realm are still only barely better than a coin flip.

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