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January 23, 2012

The BP First Take

Monday, January 23

by Daniel Rathman

Apart from legitimate aces, quality shortstops that contribute on both sides of the ball might be the hardest commodity to come by. The Red Sox had one in Marco Scutaro, a solid defender who had a triple slash of .299/.358/.423 last season, but they traded him to the Rockies for a pitcher with a career FIP of 5.57.

General manager Ben Cherington had his reasons. The $6 million Boston was set to pay Scutaro in 2012 was allegedly standing in his way of signing a free-agent starting pitcher. The Red Sox have alternatives on their roster, such as Mike Aviles and Nick Punto, who might be able to handle the position in Scutaro’s stead. The aforementioned pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, has an enticing sinker that may have helped Cherington overlook the ugly numbers.

But when push comes to shove, this was a salary dump for the Sox, and a very curious one at that. Scutaro is a 2-3 WARP player, easily worth the $6 million he was due, and hardly easy to replace. Aviles is a defensive liability; Punto is an offensive sinkhole. Top prospect Jose Iglesias, though big league-ready as a fielder, would struggle to match even Punto’s lowly contributions at the plate.

If Cherington is now able to sign Roy Oswalt, and if Oswalt returns to his pre-injury form, and if he maintains that form for the duration of the season, and if Bobby Valentine can squeeze every last drop of value out of the Aviles-Punto platoon, then moving Scutaro’s $6 million for Mortensen might make sense. But that’s an awful lot of ifs. If any one of them fails, there is a better than even chance that the overall impact of this move, plus whatever moves it foretells, will make the Red Sox worse in 2012.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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

BP Comment Quick Links

Greg Ioannou

Articles like this drive me crazy. This deal is complete theft from the point of view of the Rockies -- it's a brilliant trade. But do you acknowledge that? No. Why aren't we being given the impact of this trade on the Rox?

Sometimes it's like the Red Sox and the Yankees are the only teams that exist.

This usually doesn't happen on BP. The reason I come to the site is the balanced coverage of all the teams.

Jan 23, 2012 06:31 AM
rating: 2
 
MichavdB

I think there are plenty of reasons to report on a perceived or real salary dump by a team. This column, is called the first take. It's not common for an upper echelon baseball team to dump a good player for salary considerations, that's a practice usually reserved to the NBA. That alone makes it worthy of discussion. Both sides of this trade are discussed in Transaction Analysis.

Jan 23, 2012 06:51 AM
rating: 4
 
Behemoth

If both sides of the deal are discussed properly in the Transaction Analysis article, then what's the point of this piece? I don't want to be unfair to Daniel, who is presumably writing what he's been asked to do, but I really don't see what benefit we get from a couple of hundred words of very basic analysis, when very similar content is available from a large number of different free sources.

Jan 23, 2012 07:43 AM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

It's called "First Take" and meant to be just that. It's also an opinion article. It's just a coincidence today that Daniel wrote about a transaction covered under Transaction Analysis. That doesn't happen very often.

Jan 23, 2012 08:07 AM
 
Behemoth

I accept that, but the issue I have with it is really that it doesn't give the writer the opportunity to develop an argument properly. The reason that I pay for a subscription is to get informed and detailed analysis of a sort that isn't commonly available for free. It seems to me, and I accept that I might be in a minority here, that it isn't possible to do more than provide a basic sketch of an argument in the space that this column gets.

I do want to make it clear that I'm not having a go at Daniel, who for all I know may be a very talented writer. It's just that this format makes it very hard for him to demonstrate it.

Jan 24, 2012 05:09 AM
rating: 0
 
MichavdB

I get your point, but disagree. I think that Daniel's column is informative and while not providing deep analysis maintains enough of the BP style and content to make it very much worth the read. Just look at today's piece.

Jan 24, 2012 07:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

I preferred today's piece. Maybe this would work better if it focused on the more obscure/offbeat stuff. I just think that 200 words on the main story of the day is pretty pointless, and doesn't fit well with the BP brand, because the structure of the column dictates that you get weaker and less detailed analysis than that offered by other, free sites.

Jan 24, 2012 16:14 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Steven Goldman
BP staff

Daniel writes ahead of all of our other writers, giving a first take (which can also be read as "quick take") on the news of the day. This was designed to be accessed through our newsletter as a complement to both the material on the site and the newsletter's contents listings. People liked it enough that we decided to post it on the site as well. It risks redundancy, but I'd rather over-serve a few readers than under-serve one.

Jan 23, 2012 08:25 AM
 
Drew

Yes, I am getting quite tired of seeing astute analysis from more than one BP staffer. All this content is so tiresome.

Jan 23, 2012 08:07 AM
rating: 11
 
jaimeben

Smile!

Jan 23, 2012 08:39 AM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

I still find it hard to believe the Red Sox have such a hard budget that they couldn't wait until after acquiring Oswalt to figure out how to trim some payroll.

Jan 23, 2012 08:37 AM
rating: 4
 
Nickus

I find it hard to believe the Red Sox couldn't have gotten more out of a team that actually needs a SS.

Jan 23, 2012 09:30 AM
rating: 3
 
timber

How do you know they are acquiring Oswalt?

Jan 23, 2012 09:31 AM
rating: 0
 
ofMontreal

Even Oswalt knows they are acquiring Oswalt.

Jan 23, 2012 13:14 PM
rating: 0
 
howlingmoon

Don't Scutaro and Valentine have some history?

Jan 23, 2012 09:37 AM
rating: 0
 
marshaja

I think it's absolute fair to view this from the Sox point of view as they were almost certainly the initiator of talks. I doubt Dan O'Dowd is around cold calling teams to take a player for nothing but salary relief and if he is, please place a call to Jed Hoyer re: Soriano.

Jan 23, 2012 13:09 PM
rating: 2
 
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