Hot Stove 2010: Lackey on board, Cameron next?


With the surprise signing of John Lackey today, the Sox may have decided to freeze out Matt Holliday and agent Scott Boras altogether. A signing of that magnitude would suggest no room to add someone with Holliday’s salary requirements. Ken Rosenthal now says that the Sox are in serious talks with CF Mike Cameron about a two-year deal. The power-hitting Cameron has maintained that he wants a full-time job in centerfield, and UZR suggests that he would be a huge upgrade (+10.0 runs in 2009) over Jacoby Ellsbury (-18.6 runs in 2009) there, even at age 37. Ellsbury would certainly be a dazzling defender in left field, and his limitations with judging balls would be minimized there.

In this kind of scenario, the Sox have really upgraded their run prevention, and recovered some of the pop lost with Bay’s departure. Barring a major breakout from somebody, the offense would be maybe a bit above average. The pitching would be awesome to behold, and the defense would be much better. But Kevin Youkilis at third and a Casey Kotchman/Max Ramirez platoon at first base isn’t inspiring. The Sox do have the pieces to pull off a deal for Miguel Cabrera, or potentially Prince Fielder or even Adrian Gonzalez.

We’ve suggested that Cameron might get a one-year deal for about $8M, so if it is a two-year deal as rumored, we could be looking at $14-15M. How much offense might we leave on the table by going with an outfield of Ellsbury, Cameron and J.D. Drew relative to Holliday or Jason Bay? Holliday was worth +36.0 batting runs above average (wRAA) this year, and Bay followed close behind at +33.7 wRAA. Cameron finished at just +9.8 wRAA, which is still about one win above average; that’s pretty good production in CF, and good for 7th best last year (Ellsbury was 5th at +11.8 wRAA). Bill James projects him to be merely league average with the bat in 2010. If Cameron plays in center, the numbers tell us that he will be about a 3 win player or better, almost as valuable as Bay is projected to be in LF. That’s if you accept the importance of defense in center.

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3 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: Lackey on board, Cameron next?

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    And it’s official. Mike Cameron signs with the Sox for 2 years, $15.5M. He agrees to become the everyday left fielder, though I suspect he will see ample time in CF and RF, depending on injuries and matchups.
    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2009/12/cameron_lackey.html

  2. Pat says:

    Wow! This is all very exciting. I’m really liking the direction this ball club is going. After the quick bow out in the ALDS, so many fans have been screaming for a big bat or TWO!

    The really smart thing about this defense oriented approach is that our pitching, especially our starting pitching, has been and is our team’s greatest strength (even before John Lackey). The front office wants to maximize their pitcher’s effectiveness.

    I hope they shift Jacoby to left. People will get upset, and our team will be better for it.

  3. redsoxtalk says:

    Agreed. The Sox should move Jacoby to left. My thinking is that they want to talk to Ells first before announcing the change, that’s why it’s currently being reported Cameron will play in left. It may slow down Ellsbury’s development some, but Cameron is as good a tutor and role model as anyone for centerfield.

    There has been some speculation that Boston would move Ellsbury in another deal for a first baseman, with Ryan Kalish not far away. That’s certainly possible, but I’m not sure that the Padres would want him as he’s entering salary arbitration already, i.e. he won’t be cheap much longer. The Tigers could want him as Austin Jackson insurance, and the Brewers might not be comfortable starting Carlos Gomez in center (yet).

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