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August 1, 2014

Transaction Analysis

Give the Red Sox Your Tired and Your Poor But Do Not Give Them Your Prospects

by Sam Miller

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Acquired LF-R Yoenis Cespedes from Oakland A's in exchange for LHP Jon Lester and OF-R Jonny Gomes. [7/31]

Acquired OF/1B-R Allen Craig and RHP Joe Kelly from Boston Red Sox for RHP John Lackey. [7/31]

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15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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7th paragraph, it says Boston's, but I think it should read Oakland's seven free agent haul

Aug 01, 2014 03:56 AM
rating: 0

No, that was the Red Sox. They signed:

- David Ross,
- Jonny Gomes,
- Mike Napoli,
- Koji Uehara,
- Stephen Drew,
- Lyle Overbay and
- Shane Victorino

to free-agent contracts before the 2013 season. They also acquired David Carpenter, Joel Hanrahan, Brock Holt and Mike Carp through trades.

Aug 01, 2014 05:56 AM
rating: 4

Overbay was a minor league deal. I don't think that counts.

Aug 01, 2014 15:06 PM
rating: 0

The Kelly to Smyly comparison becomes a little more favorable for Kelly once you consider that 87.1 of the innings pitched for Smyly were as a reliever, and that Smyly has a 4.02 FIP as a starter. I'm not convinced Kelly is as good a pitcher as Smyly, but the comparison isn't off base.

Aug 01, 2014 05:33 AM
rating: 2

I thought that too.

I'm not convinced the returns for Lackey and Price were that different. Joe Kelly is more or less similar to Drew Smyly(I will admit that Smyly is better). While I don't think a comparison between Craig and Franklin is easy, I think they are similar in value.

If the Cardinals offered Kelly and Piscotty + throw-in, would the the Rays have accepted?
If the Red Sox saw the offer from the Tigers, would they have tried to flip say Joe Kelly and Mookie Betts for David Price?(though it depends on in-divison nonsense).

A lot of the argument surrounding Price's return was because of the $20M is owed next year. But when you are dealing with bigger market teams, they'll tend to pay a significantly premium for slight upgrade.

Aug 01, 2014 15:04 PM
rating: 0

Great work as always, Sam.

Aug 01, 2014 06:32 AM
rating: 1

Cardinals fan here. I'm going to miss Joe Kelly. He always seemed to get a bit lucky, but he hardly ever gave up home runs and constantly induced ground balls. I wonder if they'll keep him in the rotation or eventually move him to setup man or something like that.

Aug 01, 2014 07:07 AM
rating: 0
Shaun P.

"The point of prospects isn’t to win a prospects ranking, after all. It’s to put a good team on the field, however you can, with as much or as little risk as your organization can responsibly bear."

Yes - this! KG used to make a similar comment, about prospects being assets that the major league team can use to acquire major league talent, but he phrased it better than I have. An excellent point.

Aug 01, 2014 07:37 AM
rating: 3

It's not just that Boston didn't receive prospects. There were a lot of big-leaguer-for-big-leaguer trades. I wonder if its because teams realize prospects are overrated and would rather have big leaguers, or if its because teams are clinging to their prospects so hard they won't move them (Addison Russell's notwithstanding).

Aug 01, 2014 07:52 AM
rating: 0

I think the "Winner" of the Cardinals and red Sox trade hinges on Allen Craig.

If Craig bounces back, then the Red Sox came out ahead. However, he may be done. The Red Sox will be paying him $25.5 million dollars from 2015-2017, plus a $1 million buyout.

This season, Craig has declined across the board offensively. Craig’s BB%, B/K rate, GB% and HR/FB% are all career worsts, and his K% is the worst since his rookie year in 2010.

For most of these this is part of a multi-year trend. The following numbers are for 2012, 2013, and 2014.

K%: 17.3%, 17.8%, 19.3%
GB%: 43.9%, 45%, 56.5%
HR/FB%: 17.1%, 11.2%, 9,9%

The increase in ground ball percentage combined with the dramatic plunge in home run percentage has gutted his power.

Much of his decline was masked last year by an unsustainable line drive percentage (26.9%) fueling in unsustainable BABIP of .368. Without that, his slash stats would not have looked very good.

Worse yet, all of his value is in his bat. He is defensively challenged and a poor base runner.

It is certainly possible that his career is essentially over. People forget that he did not have a major league season with more than 500 at bats until he was 27 years old. Many players who are not regulars until their age 27 season do not have long careers. Star players tend to become regulars well before they are 27.

I wish Craig well and hope he bounces back. But there is a very real chance that the Cardinals simply dumped a $26.5 million sub-replacement level player on the Red Sox. Even if he does bounce back, he may never have bounced back with the Cardinals, with the same coaching and threats to his playing time.

Aug 01, 2014 08:00 AM
rating: 2

For the record, Jody Rosen defines "pop music" in such a way as to make his claim true. I have no problem listening to what my daughter listens to - I like some of it too. But adults are under no obligation to share Rosen's definition. And there is no statistical, economic, or cultural/aesthetic reason for us to do so either.

Aug 01, 2014 08:54 AM
rating: 4

Notice that all this leaves the Red Sox with 40% of their rotation for the rest of the year being the two pitchers they received in the Adrian Gonzalez, et.al. blockbuster: RUBBY DE LA ROSA AND ALLEN WEBSTER. Meantime, they won a title while these two were learning their craft. That deal might end up looking pretty okay for the BoSox!

Aug 01, 2014 09:56 AM
rating: 1
Eric M. Van

It's important to note that the A's also gave the Sox their 2015 competitive balance pick. So, compared to keeping Lester and losing him in free agency, the cost for one year of Cespedes was moving down a handful of picks in the 2015 supplemental first round, plus the C prospect Gomes could have gotten them. Which is close to nothing. If they re-sign Lester, then they've bought the year of Cespedes and the draft pick for the extra money they're likely to have to pay Lester because he no longer will cost teams a draft pick.

There's evidence that Kelly may have a BABIP skill and hence be better than people think, i.e. his ERA-FIP may not all be air. In 268 PA, he's held 3 and 4 hitters to about .025 points of TAv below league average (via a .345 SA allowed), while fanning 13.8% and walking 10.8%. Which frankly seems impossible (the whole set of splits by batting order position, in fact, is inverted.) And that in turn suggests his low BABIP with RISP may have a real component. (Whether such shenanigans can be sustained is another question, of course.)

Aug 02, 2014 02:46 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

It's a competitive balance B pick, so after the second round, not after the first.

Aug 02, 2014 08:14 AM
Eric M. Van

Ah, I should have looked that up (or some sportswriter, somewhere, should have mentioned it!). Still, moving down a round is a relatively small price.

Aug 02, 2014 22:41 PM
rating: 0
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