Posted by MagicSox
April 4th, 2010.
Jacoby Ellsbury in left field, Mike Cameron in center field, J.D. Drew in right.
August 19th, 2010.
Daniel Nava in left field, Ryan Kalish in center field, J.D. Drew in right.
What the hell happened?
First, you have to realize that the 2010 Red Sox have had absolutely the worst luck regarding injuries this year. Both of our catchers, MVP-candidate 1st and 2nd basemen, star young left fielder and veteran center fielder. For any other team that had a shot at the playoffs, all of their hopes would be decimated by now, especially in baseball’s toughest division. The Sox are still dangling in there, only 5 and a half games out of the wild card race. It looks like this “second-string” lineup can at least get us through the season.
The question is next year: in their cameos, Kalish and Nava have done adequately for untested rookies, especially Kalish, who started the season with AA Portland. Kalish is hitting .250 with an OPS 0f .654, so he isn’t cutting it at the plate, and there’s not enough data to collect WAR or UZR from him. Although he’s had a couple of big home runs and come up admirably in the clutch, he’s frankly not ready for a full season in the big leagues. He did a fine job as an injury replacement, but most of his 2011 season will be spent at AAA Pawtucket.
Daniel Nava is the more well-known of the two, mainly due to his improbable story and big first at-bat. After cooling off, he’s managing a .273 average, with a much more acceptable .793 OPS, and 17 RBIs in 99 at bats. He’s been a 0.4 win player, comparable to Rajai Davis, Troy Glaus, and Howie Kendrick. His UZR is a not-great -0.5. Since his contact hitter profile (1 home run) doesn’t match his position (LF), he’ll have to improve his defense a bit if he wants to be considered for a starting spot.
Comparing his UZR to the original starting outfield, we have:
Jacoby Ellsbury at 0.7
Mike Cameron at a subpar measure of -8.7
J.D. Drew at 6.5
As you can see, Nava’s -0.5 is definitely better than Cameron’s poor rating of -8.7. This makes Cameron a definite trade target, since someone who can hit .259 and slug around .400 (not to mention 3 Gold Gloves) has some value to hitting-starved teams in the AL, or as a bench bat and veteran influence for an NL team. Assuming the Red Sox can find a taker (which I’d like them to do very much), Nava would start in left, and Ellsbury would switch to center. Ellsbury’s career UZR/150 in left (23.7) is a lot better than his in center (-0.6), his play in center will be an improvement than Cameron’s. I’m also sure that they would have no problem bringing back Darnell McDonald as the fourth outfielder.
Basically, the team can improve in offense and defense if they replace Cameron with Nava. Also, as a young player, Nava offers more upside, opposed to a crusty, past-his-prime veteran in Cameron. After a year with a very cloudy outfield picture (Ellsbury, Cameron, Drew, Hall, Patterson, Nava, Kalish, Reddick), hopefully the Red Sox can bring in some stability.