(1) This is NOT a “bash the moves of the front office/defend the moves of the front office” post, and I don’t intend to make it that kind of thread. I’m merely trying to start an interesting, thoughtful discussion on the effects of a particular move that was made this offseason, and with the recent death of the mega-thread, I thought that this discussion was worthy of its own thread.
(2) Yes, I am aware that it is very early in the season. However, I do not think it is too early to take what we’ve seen so far this season and decide how (if at all) it affects what we might expect for the rest of this season.
(3) For the purposes of this argument, I am assuming that, instead of trading for Loretta, the Red Sox would have just kept Mirabelli and Graffanino, and Graff would have been the everyday 2nd baseman. However, alternative theories are highly encouraged.
My basic premise is this: I like Loretta very much as a player. He is a solid contributor offensively and defensively, seems like a great clubhouse guy, and has been a good addition to the club. However, the “upgrade” from Graffanino to Loretta costs us a backup catcher who did a solid job, and I’m wondering if it was worth it. The way I see it is this:
Offensive Differential: Mirabelli vs. Bard
-I really don’t see this as a huge deal, considering that this is a position that entails about 35 starts/150 AB a year. Mirabelli has a career OPS of .753, Bard’s is .657 in 504 AB. You can make the case that Mirabelli would have been more valuable as a pinch hitter in certain situations, but Tito never really used him that way in any sort of significant capacity. The stat geeks can help me out with the analysis here, but the offensive difference between the two MAY amount to one game a year, if that.
Offensive/Defensive Differential: Loretta vs. Graffanino
-Offensively: Loretta has a career OPS of .773 (.716 this year). Graffanino’s career OPS is .728 (.412 this year). However, Tony had a good year last year in Boston, posting an .812 OPS in 50+ games (his OPS with Kansas City last year was .770). Loretta did not have a good year last year offensively, posting a .707 OPS in what is an admittedly very pitcher-friendly park.
-Defensively: Loretta posts a career .987 career fielding % as a 2nd baseman, and an .831 ZR. Graffanino posts a career .980 fielding % and an .828 ZR. Admittedly, these are not the greatest stats to use, but I don’t have the access and/or familiarity with defensive stats to post them here (so I’d appreciate any help in that department). However, looking at these two statistics, Graffanino and Loretta look pretty similar. Based on nothing but my observation, the two seem to both be pretty solid defensive 2nd baseman, and there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the two. If anybody has any evidence to the contrary, I would really like to see it.
Defensive differential: Bard v. Mirabelli
-This, IMO, is the real wildcard. I am relatively confident that, with time and practice, Bard will grow more accustomed to catching the knuckleball, and the rate of passed balls will go down. The question is this: how long will it take, and how much, if at all, will it affect Wakefield’s performance and confidence on the mound? It’s worth noting that with 16 wins in 2005, Wakefield was arguably our most valuable starter last year. If having Bard behind the plate instead of Mirabelli makes Wakefield a less valuable starter, that is certainly something that should be taken in to consideration in evaluating the trade.
Assuming that Bard and Mirabelli would contribute about equally offensively, and assuming that Loretta and Graffanino would contribute about equally defensively, presumably we sacrificed Mirabelli’s defensive value at catcher for Loretta’s offensive value at 2B. So let’s say that X is the offensive value that we gained by swapping Graffanino for Loretta, and Y is the defensive value that we lost by swapping Mirabelli for Bard. Is X really greater than Y? In other words, is the upgrade to Loretta worth the Bard passed balls and Wake’s discomfort on the mound?
I am admittedly not qualified to make a solid statistical case one way or the other. Someone can probably provide solid numbers as to the offensive differential at both positions, and maybe eve nas to the defensive differential between Loretta and Graf. But the comfort of Wakefield, and how much he will or will not be affected by Bard this season, is a real wild card, and I'm really not sure that whatever upgrade we got at 2B was worth it.
Edited by redsoxjamie, 20 April 2006 - 07:51 PM.