The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has tweeted some speculation that the Chicago White Sox' Paul Konerko may be a fit at Fenway in 2011. Frankly, the idea that Theo Epstein would sign Chicago's overachieving 34-year-old first baseman is laughable.
It seems likely to this writer that Mr. Cafardo is simply a man of the moment. That is, with the White Sox visiting Beantown this weekend for a three-game set, Mr. Cafardo is participating in some amateur scouting. Were the Colorado Rockies in town, Cafardo might easily be tweeting that Kaz Matsui could be a good match with the 2011 Sox.
In fact, it seems to this writer that Cafardo, like many an overzealous fan, is simply enamoured of the hot player he sees before him, for under no logical circumstances should the Red Sox consider signing Konerko. Today, at least, Cafardo seems more emotional fanatic than critical journalist.
First, I doubt Cafardo is suggesting the Red Sox sign Konerko to replace David Ortiz at designated hitter. Konerko will cost more than Ortiz, a hometown hero who can provide similar power for less than half the price. For those confused by the numbers, rest assured that Ortiz' $12.5 million club option will be declined, but the Red Sox will probably tender him an offer for two to three years and $18 to $24 million.
Consider, therefore, that Paul Konerko can play first base only. Were the Red Sox to sign Konerko, they would have to let third baseman Adrian Beltre walk and permanently shift current first baseman Kevin Youkilis to third.
For an organization that values strong defense, these moves would be disastrous. While Kevin Youkilis has won a Gold Glove at first, Konerko is a below-average defender whose 2010 UZR/150 rests at a pathetic -11.9.
Meanwhile, over at the hot corner, Adrian Beltre possesses a career UZR/150 of 15.6. Youkilis owns a respectable, but less impressive, 6.9 mark.
The aggregate defensive change for the Sox were they to sign Konerko would be to downgrade the corner infield positions by a UZR/150 of 28.1.
For those who don't entirely understand Ultimate Zone Rating, decreasing by 28.1 would lead to a lot of angry Red Sox pitchers.
Offensively, signing Konerko and bidding Beltre goodbye might be a short-term wash. Both Beltre (.321 AVG/918 OPS/25 HR) and Konerko (.319 AVG/986 OPS/33 HR) are enjoying near-career years. Neither should be expected to replicate this type of production in 2011.
However, even if both Beltre and Konerko can keep it up, Beltre has youth on his side. Konerko will be 35 on opening day next season. Beltre will be turning 32 that week. Those three years are mammoth in baseball.
Assuming that both Beltre and Konerko will command multi-year contracts this winter, Beltre is the far safer bet.
Since 2005, Beltre has averaged just over $15 million per year in sabermetric value. A fair contract offer would be four years and $60 million. At the contract's conclusion, Beltre would be 35.
Conversely, in that same span, Konerko has averaged just under $12 million per year sabermetrically. At his age, however, it would be dangerous to offer Konerko more than two years and $24 million. Konerko will want more.
To this writer's knowledge, Cafardo is the first to wonder if Konerko and Boston might be a good match. He should be the last.
Just a suggestion, but Cafardo might spend less time tweeting about visiting first basemen and more time watching the hometown third baseman. The Red Sox already have a first basemen, and between Beltre and Konerko only one belongs in Boston. He's at the hot corner.
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