Key Stats: Looking back at 2005, Jason Bay seemed destined to become what Grady Sizemore or Ryan Braun is today. He was a five category player. The biggest change since then has been in the stolen base department. He went from 21 to 11 to 4 to 10. It’s worth noting that last season he was perfect going 10 for 10. If he’s hitting toward the bottom of the lineup, it would make sense that the Red Sox would manufacture more runs. With the perfect total from last year Bay could see his steals total rise again in 2009.
Skeptics Say: There was a very weak 2007 that saw Bay hit .247 and only 21 home runs. That season appears to be the outlier in his career, but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Peer Comparison: The 2010 free agent class does not have the headline names of Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, but it is still pretty darn good. Assuming the Rays pick up the option on Carl Crawford, it’s possible that Bay and Matt Holliday will be not just the best outfielders to hit the free agent market, but the best overall players.
Having said this it’s perplexing that the Red Sox have not taken advantage of a sour economy and locked up Bay for a discount. One example that suggests the Red Sox will continue to wait is the decision to resign free agent Mike Lowell after he became a free agent following the 2007 World Series. At that time the Red Sox could have made a run at Alex Rodriguez who had opted out of his deal with the Yankees. They didn’t ultimately pursue A-Rod, and the way things have gone off the field it hasn’t been the worst thing (although Lowell being on the hook for $24 million with serious health questions isn’t the best thing either). In waiting a year the Red Sox can see if Bay’s 2007 was just one bad egg and if Holliday can put together Coors Field numbers playing at McAfee Coliseum. Here’s why despite the departure from Coors, Holliday needs to be drafted ahead of Bay and why Holliday will be in greater demand by the Red Sox and all teams at the 2009 Winter Meetings.
Holliday: Age: 29, strikeouts in 20% of road at bats in 2008, .405 OBP on road in 2008
Bay: Age: 30, strikeouts in 24% of all at bats in 2008, .370 OBP in all at bats in 2008
And remember, 2008 was Holliday’s worst and Bay’s best.
Lineup Outlook: This is where Bay’s value can fluctuate most. The Red Sox hit Kevin Youkilis fourth after Manny Ramirez left town and it worked great. Youkilis had his best season last year, but in years past he was generally regarded as more of an on base percentage player than a run producer. If Bay ends up in the clean up position and gets either Youkilis or a healthy J.D. Drew (comedy is a part of the blog – I know Drew won’t be healthy ok?) to hit behind him then he will be much more valuable than he would in the fifth or sixth spot. The lineup is loaded, but he will not get above 100 runs again hitting 5th or 6th.
What They’re Saying: MLB.com: #13 Outfielder and #35 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #13 Outfielder and #33 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #34 Overall; Fox Sports: #15 Outfielder; ESPN: #13 Outfielder; Yahoo: #11 Outfielder and #31 Overall
Projection: Steals come up, runs go down and the overall performance is the same.
92R 29 HR 110 RBI 14 SB .290 AVG .880 OPS
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