Friday, August 1, 2008

The Manny Aftermath

have to chime in on the Manny trade. No, I'm not going to offer any analysis simply because my view of the trade is right in line with everybody else's whom I have talked to. To put it plainly:

A) It had to be done. Clearly the organization had tired of Manny and it was for the best for all parties for him to move on.

B) The Red Sox lineup is obviously better with Manny Ramirez than Jason Bay but the Red Sox team is probably better with Bay.

C) More than likely the Red Sox were not winning anything this year as presently constructed at the beginning of the day on 7/31/08. Some of that had to do with the Manny sideshow. Some of it had to do with the fact that they are a flawed team - bad bullpen, Josh Beckett reverting to 2006 form, and a blackhole at the bottom of the order. Moving Manny alleviated some of that problem. Now, either they are galvanized by this move or they fall short of the playoffs because they traded the centerpiece of their lineup. It could easily go either way.

D) Maybe they gave up kind of a lot. Paying Manny's salary plus Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss? Whatever. That money to Manny is not coming out of my pocket so I could really care less, losing Craig Hansen is addition by subtraction in my book, and Brandon Moss probably never would have moved beyond fourth outfielder status on the Big Club anyway. Were they fleeced a bit? Probably some, but they were pushing deadline and HAD to get the deal completed so if it took a Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen then so be it.

Now, some things I have heard about this deal....

1) I was emailing back and forth with a sales rep I do a lot of work with in NYC. He's a huge Yankees fan. He was ecstatic. If I were in his shoes, I'd feel the same way.

2) Another common refrain I have heard is, "I think Big Papi will really be hurt by not having Manny behind him in the lineup". That sounds good in theory but if you look at the actual numbers, they really do not bear that out.

Consider this:

Over the last two Septembers - of '06 and '07 - Manny played in a grand total of 13 games (7 in '06 and 6 in '07). During that same time span, David Ortiz played in 48 games (22 in '06 and 26 in '07). From that you can see that David Ortiz logged steady time without Manny in both of those months and played in 35 more games over the last two Septembers. And what are Ortiz' numbers over those two Septembers?

In 2006 - .292/.480/.667 with 7 HR and 16 RBI

In 2007 - .396/.517/.824 with 9 HR and 27 RBI

Enough said right? Yes his walks were up in both years without Manny behind him as he walked more in September than he did in any other month in both years, but I'll take an OBP of around .500 anytime. And when he did hit....I don't think I need to explain how incredible the above numbers are. Those are some early 2000's Barry Bonds type numbers there.

Long story short, let's not go writing Big Papi's obit just because he lost Manny Ramirez hitting behind him.

3) The drop off from Manny Ramirez to Jason Bay is not as dramatic as one may think on account of Bay's OPS+ of 135 compared to Manny's OPS+ of 140. Not a huge difference there right? Well right at face value, but when you consider that OPS+ represents the percentage above league average, that says that Manny is roughly 5% better than Jason Bay. 5% would be a small number in dealing with an average around 100 or so but when the league average is around 800, that number will obviously be magnified. How much?

Manny's OPS this year is currently .926. Jason Bay clocks in at .894. That difference of .32 points of OPS is large but not catastrophic. Bay will now slide into being third on the Red Sox in OPS behind JD Drew and Kevin Youkilis. Manny was second. So yes the team takes a hit there. Not a huge hit, but not a small one either.

4) My Jason Bay Story

Heading into the fantasy draft for my keeper league in 2006, the roughly ten best offensive players were off the board and "kept" for 2006. These players were A-Rod, Pujols, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Vlad Guerrerro, Manny, Miguel Tejada, and Michael Young. That list may look weird but you have to consider the positions they play, their 2005 seasons, and also what owner had what players. Regardless though, the above is not important.

What is important is that going into the draft there was a consensus first overall pick in Mark Texiera, a consensus second overall pick in David Ortiz, and then there was a scrum of players at 3 through 6 who all were relatively equal heading into the season. These players were Chase Utley, Carl Crawford, Jason Bay, and Miguel Cabrera. I sat at 6 that year and figured to get whomever was left of those four. I wanted Crawford or Bay and I got "stuck" with Miguel Cabrera. I say "stuck" because it felt that way at the time, but of those four guys, Cabrera turned out to easily be the second best of the group after Chase Utley.

So why was I so hot on Jason Bay? For starters, he was coming off of a .306/32/101 season where he scored 110 runs and stole 21 bases on top of that. That's a nice five tool player right there. In addition, Brandon Funston wrote an article on the Yahoo Fantasy Page entitled "Draft Day Dilemma: Bay vs. Abreu". For whatever reason, this article stayed up on the Fantasy Main Page for what seemed like an eternity in the spring of 2006 so whenever I went to our league site I saw this article and it stoked my flames for Bay even more. I wanted Jason Bay to fall to me and while I doubted he would, I was really hoping and praying. Well not praying. And that is why I said earlier I felt I got "stuck" with Miguel Cabrera.

Looking back, that whole scenario taught me a very important lesson about fantasy which is that if you are torn between a "boring" lock and an iffy new and exciting player, it's normally best to go with the lock. In 2005, Bay was coming off of a year - his second in the bigs - where he hit .306/32/101 with 110 RS and 21 SB. Cabrera was coming off of a year - his third year in the bigs - where he hit .323/33/116 and scored 106 runs but only had 1 steal. It's easy to see how Bay would be enticing but Cabrera was definitely the more know and surefire commodity at the time. Bay did not have an awful 2006 season (.285/36/109) but he wound up the 45th ranked player in Yahoo as opposed to Cabrera who wound up 16th. Has Bay approached his 2005 levels since then? Simply put, no.

So what is the whole point of this story? I have no idea. It's just that whenever I think of Jason Bay I think of that whole draft saga and especially the "Draft Day Dilemma: Bay vs. Abreu" article so I just find it funny that he is now on the Red Sox.

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