Wednesday, June 23, 2004
I do not have the patience for puzzles. I say just cut the freaking pieces and make them fit. A baseball club is like a puzzle with 25 large pieces, 15 or so medium to small pieces and 100 other minor parts. The Sox club does not need another outfield piece to complete the puzzle. Even though Carlos Beltran is one of my favorite players, he is not necessary for the Sox.
Since Beltran will not sign a long-term deal this season, then it is a three month acquisition for $5.5125 million ($4.5 million salary plus 22.5% luxury tax) and prospects. The financials of the deal are fairly simple: very little increase in revenue - $5.5125 million short-term expense, in addition to the probable loss of future payroll flexibility by trading player(s) that will likely make less than 500K their first three seasons. Unless Beltran is the player that gets the Sox to the World Series (as we know, winning the pennant has a lot to do with luck), the Sox balance sheet will suffer in 2004 and be not as bright over the next three seasons.
On the field, Beltran will likely take time away from Kevin Millar - Ortiz will play first, Manny will DH and Damon will shift to left. Below is both Beltran and Millar’s mean Nate Silver/Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projection for 2004 and by their current 2004 levels (AVG/OBP/SLG):
Beltran – 292/365/505 and 280/371/529
Millar – 291/359/495 and 270/350/403
Other than the transplant cowboy’s slugging percentage, PECOTA is very close. Thus in average and OBP Beltran has not been and will likely not be significantly better than Millar through the remainder of this season.
The future co-host of the Worst Damn Sports Show’s projected slugging percentage is similar to Beltran’s but to date Millar is 92 points below his projection. The probability of KFC boy slugging at this low level is less than 10%, according to PECOTA. Since Millar’s averages are fairly similar, the difference in Isolated Power (SLG-BA) is significant. Millar’s Extra Base Hits per at-bat is 9% in 2004 and last season it was 10%. The difference is that Millar is hitting a larger percentage of double instead of homers so far this season when compared to 2003. Since Millar has not had a significant drop in XBH/AB, he could just be experiencing some bad luck with hits turning into doubles when those boys were dingers last season.
With the gloves, the Sox would be better off. Damon in left instead of Manny is a huge upgrade. A below average leftfielder is being replaced by an above average, due to the weak arm, centerfielder. Millar is slightly better than Ortiz at first but that is really splitting hairs.
In summary, Beltran will provide better defense and a slightly better and less risky bat. Those pluses are not worth over $5 million, Kevin Youkilis and/or any highly regarded minor leaguers. Beltran does not significantly increase the Sox chance of making the post-season. Ben Sheets, Brad Penny, or Randy Johnson, all currently not available, are a different story.
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