Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The head will discuss the Pedro situation by taking three…questions with the heart is on deck.
• Did the Sox make the right decision by not matching the Mets offer?
Yes. Let’s face fact, Pedro like Nomar was not the same player after injury. Both former Sox stars are still All-Star performers, but with declining numbers, the risk of recurring injuries, and being on the wrong side of thirty neither one was a solid long-term investment given their market value. Clubs should pay for future performance, not past numbers. The Sox certainly made the right choice on both players.
• Where do the Sox go to replace Pedro?
Four names appear to be popping up: Clement, Perez, Burnett and Hudson. Each situation has many positive and negative factors.
1. Clement is a strikeout-power pitcher that would fit in well with the Sox average defense. He also has control issues at 30 years of age and coming from a couple of years of Dusty Baker’s Old Style starter program is due to hit the DL in the near future.
2. Perez would be entering the normal prime years for a pitcher at 27. He is lefthanded and has good stuff, but injury guru, Will Carroll, believes Perez is a significant injury risk. The route that Latin pitchers take to the minor leagues is often much harder than their American counterparts and some, like Perez, seem to age faster. This isn't an "agegate" thing at all, just a workload consideration. He'll be a back of the rotation guy for a few more years before fading. Perez is not a suitable #2 and a big risk for a multi-year deal.
3. Burnett is coming off of Tommy John. Like former teammate, Clement, they are both – strikeout-power pitchers with control problems. Burnett unlike Clement has shown improvement and is two years younger. The Sox would likely need to sign Renteria and deal Hanley Ramirez for Burnett. Dealing Ramirez is not the issue. Hitters, without good plate discipline and have not played a full season in AA or AAA are risky prospects in my book, no matter the talent level. The main issue is committing close to $40 million over four years to a questionable All-Star.
4. Acquiring Hudson is remote. It would need to be a three or four team deal and the Sox would need to give up a significant number of assets for only one guaranteed season of Hudson. Although Hudson has been durable, he has had nagging injuries over the last couple of seasons and his groundball style is not a fit. Hudson’s sharply declining K/9 is a major concern.
• If the four apparent options are all questionable, how do the Sox fill the void?
2004 Sox starters and Baseball Prospectus Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) stat were as follows:
Schilling – 72.9
Pedro – 51.2
Lowe – (11.5)
Wake – 9.4
Arroyo – 24.7
Total – 146.7
If any loss of production from Schilling due to his late start can be negated by the improvement of Arroyo and the Wake performing similar to 2001-2003, then the rotation needs to replace 39.7 VORP – the net of Pedro and Lowe. David Wells pitched to a 40.3 score in 2004 and over the last three seasons averaged a VORP of 38.8. The Sox only need to find a replacement level pitcher for the rotation to project a similar net gain next season. Theo and the Trio will acquire more than a replacement level starter as insurance for the above assumptions and possible injuries. But the notion that a co-#1 is necessary to fill Petey’s shoes is not true.
One other note: As expected the Giants want to move A.J. Peep, the Sox should show interest. Dollars budgeted for Pedro and Tek could put the Sox in the market for the only low risk - pure superstar on the free agent market in the coming years, Carlos Beltran.