A Little More on the Scutaro Deal

by Sully on January 22, 2012

in Red Sox

This man will not be pitching for the 2012 Red Sox. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

I would like quickly to break down what I perceive to be the rationale for this deal. Yesterday I wrote about how trading Scutaro with the mindset that Aviles and Punto can hold down shortstop amounts to a concession of about a win or so. Ben Cherington said yesterday according to the Boston Globe, “We feel the combination of Punto and Aviles can approximate Scutaro’s production.’’ Ben’s use of “approximate” may be charitable there since one win is nothing to sneeze at, but if we accept that the deal will in turn allow for the addition of a pitcher like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, let’s examine what that upgrade might look like.

According to Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement, every starting pitcher other than Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz that took the ball for the Red Sox last year contributed a combined 0.3 WAR. Seven players, 0.3 WAR. Zero point three. Here’s the list (sorry for the goofy formatting, I’m a dinosaur and can’t upload a Google doc in any sort of aesthetically decent way, apparently):

What makes this even more fascinating is that Alfredo Aceves accounts for 2.9 of that 0.3 figure, but only 21 of his 114 innings came as a starter, and they weren’t even very good innings. Take Aceves out of the picture and that’s -2.6 WAR, combined, from starters other than Lester, Beckett and Buchholz. So this sort of starts to become an easy calculation. If the Red Sox need to part with Scutaro (and a win or so) in order to free up money for Oswalt or Jackson, they’re looking at an upgrade of 4 or 5 wins. It’s even more if Gavin Floyd or Matt Garza are in the mix.

If I have one issue with the trade it’s that I would have thought Scutaro could have commanded more than what the Rockies sent back. I have no way of knowing the market, though, so I can’t get too worked up over it. The more common complaint is that the Red Sox are being cheap. If it doesn’t sit right with you that an organization as fiscally sound as the Red Sox needs to clear salary to make room for a player who will command a lot of money, I guess that’s your call to feel that way. As evidenced by one sports radio personality’s silliness yesterday, believe me, that mentality exists out there. In reality land, the Red Sox spend more than all but a team or two in Major League Baseball, and any functioning enterprise has to operate on a budget. That quibble aside, that the Red Sox should spend until Marc Bertrand’s happy, the calculus that likely went into this deal makes it a no-brainer: modest downgrade at shortstop for a major upgrade in the starting rotation.

Now let’s just make sure that upgrade in fact materializes.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin January 22, 2012 at 8:27 am

I hear all this talk about Oswalt but wonder if he really is the answer. Two of the last three years he has had a K/9 below 7, so I am unconvinced he will be particularly effective in a switch to the AL East. What are reasonable expectations for him in your mind?

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Ian January 22, 2012 at 8:28 am

I’d say it’s still unclear if that upgrade will indeed happen and we shouldn’t count on it. Here’s why:
-We know the Sox are over or very near the luxury tax limit and have expressed the desire to get under it this year.
-If they’re over before dumping Scutaro, they may need to make the deal just to get under.
-If they’re making the deal to make space for Oswalt or Jackson, they’re still going to be over once they sign one of them unless they can get one for less than $6 mil. That leads me to believe they may look to clear salary elsewhere.

This all depends on how serious they are about getting under the cap, but their moves thus far lead me to believe that they are pretty serious about it.

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FromThisSeat.com February 3, 2012 at 1:04 am

Is Edwin Jackson a Scott Boras client? I feel like he has talked to seemingly every team and is holding out for a deal that likely will not come. Just go out and play ball buddie.

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