Speaking of things that fail the laugh test...
JD Drew, on this board, is undoubtedly the straw that stirs the drink. It always, ALWAYS seems to come back to either Drew's contract or how to value his performance.
I am not a Drew basher. I don't have any problem with the contract they gave him. I just think Holliday is significantly better, in part because he plays 15 to 20 percent more games per season. Also, as a righthander, he'd play to Fenway whereas Drew is hurt by the old gal's weird dimensions.
I'm curious as to how you, as the General Manager, would value defense. Would you simply ignore it in all your decisions, would you rely completely on what your scouts say, or would you devote resources to coming up with a metric that involves less wild gyrations?
Well, more inquiry is always welcome. I am skeptical that individual defense can be quantified, because so much of defense is dependent on factors outside of a player's control. I think the current status of stats like UZR is that they are closer to a +/- rating in hockey or basketball than to park and league adjusted OPS.
On top of that, I come down on the lower end of the range in which SABRmetricians value fielding. I think on one end of the spectrum you could go as far as saying offense, pitching, and fielding are equally important, ascribing 1/3 weight to each. The other end of the spectrum ascribes 50 percent to offense, and 50 percent to run prevention, which is composed of pitching and fielding. I fall into that end of the spectrum, and believe that fielding is actually a rather small part compared to pitching. I make that assessment on the basis of the rather small number of plays in an average baseball game that are not routine.
Further, the aggregate value assigned to fielding would not be distributed equally - The Red Sox should value defense in a leftfielder less highly than the Yankees, because of the relative dimensions of Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. And, vice-versa for rightfield. So, with a rather small weight placed on the importance of fielding in aggregate player value, with that value varying by park and by position, and with the measurement of fielding skill highly imprecise, I'd be paying a lot more for offense and pitching than I would for fielding.
So now Holliday is plan A because he's an elite talent, Cameron is B because he has the most bang-for-buck, and Bay is C in case the market for him collapses and they can't sign the first two.
I don't disagree that Cameron has the most bang-for-the-buck; Cameron is cheap. However, they do not give out the division titles and the world series trophy for excellence in payroll management; they give it out to the team with the players who play the best baseball.
You cannot always go for the value option when you're competing in the AL East. As a potential 25 man roster, they've got great value in Youkilis, Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Ellsbury, Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Okajima, Lowrie and Bard. They've got equal value in Scutaro, Lackey, Papelbon, Drew, Hermida, Delcarmen, Varitek, Kotchman, Wakefield, and Matsuzaka. They shouldn't have to overpay for the other 2 spots--back end of the bullpen and another bench player. They're getting hosed by Lugo payments, with the potential to be hosed by Lowell and Ortiz.
I think that salary structure leaves room to pay $18 million for Holliday rather than $7 million for Cameron, especially since Lugo, Lowell, and Ortiz can be off the books after 2010.