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.