Andre Ethier at the 2011 MLB All-Star Game
The Boston Red Sox are always in the midst of the mid-July hot stove fervor, and 2011 is no different, with rumors swirling about the possibility of a new right-fielder to stand in for the disappointing and under-performing JD Drew.
Arguably, the team's weakest position this season is right field. With rumors swirling about everyone from Melky Cabrera to Jeff Francoeur to Andre Ethier, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is likely to make a move for an outfielder. Whether the new addition is a star or a utility man depends on how much Epstein wants to give up.
The former New York Yankees backup outfielder is having a career year with Kansas City. Through 91 games, Cabrera is just two home runs shy of matching his career best. His average is .293, he has 52 RBI, his on-base percentage is .331 and his slugging percentage is .450 for an OPS of .781. His WAR is a decent 1.6, and his oWAR is 3.1
However, Cabrera is by no means a defensive specialist (his dWAR is a -1.5). Navigating right field at Fenway is trickier than it looks, and that may hurt his chances of joining Boston in the long run. Still, wouldn't it be extra poignant if Cabrera (a former Yankee) helps stick it to the Bronx Bombers down the stretch?
The Josh Willingham-to-Boston rumors have been going on for so long, one of my very first articles for Bleacher Report was about whether or not the Red Sox were going to make a move for Willingham (then of the Washington Nationals).
Willingham's contract is up at the end of the year, and the Athletics look more and more likely to trade him. His numbers are far from stellar, with 12 home runs and 46 RBI. He's hitting only .247 with an on-base percentage of .322 and a slugging percentage of .439 for an OPS of .761.
His WAR is a measly 0.4, with an oWAR of 0.8 and a dWAR of -0.4.
For some reason, Willingham has always been one of those guys I've inexplicably liked, despite below average numbers.
While Willingham remains a possibility for the Red Sox, it seems less likely that Epstein will make a move for him. If Willingham does come to Boston, he'd probably be their fifth outfielder, which would make him vastly better than the current fifth outfielder, Darnell McDonald.
Back to Kansas City, and to another player that's been rumored to be coming to Boston for quite some time.
Francoeur has been a relatively solid bat for the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Texas Rangers and now the Royals, but his numbers have been sporadic. He's never hit above .300 (except for his rookie year) and only once hit more than 20 home runs, although twice he's had more than 100 RBI. His WAR has been sporadic as well, as he went from 2.5 to -3.0 in four seasons. Now, most of his WARs hover around 0-1 range.
This season, Francouer is appearing to rebound after a poor 2010 season, with a .263 average, 13 home runs and 56 RBI. His on-base percentage is a decent .308 and his slugging percentage is .439 for an OPS of .748. His WAR is 0.9, his oWAR is 1.2 and his dWAR is 0.3.
Carlos Beltran seems to be where the Red Sox are spending most of their time this hot stove season. And who can blame them? Beltran is one of the biggest (if not the most overpaid) names on the market right now. He was once the boy wonder with the Royals, Houston Astros and New York Mets, but injuries have hampered him. The 34-year-old is nearing the end of his career, and the end of his time in Flushing.
Since it appears very unlikely that the Mets will resign the impending free agent, New York management is looking to extract some sort of compensation out of him.
The Mets appear willing to eat the remainder of his preposterous salary, but likely at the expense of getting better prospects.
To be honest, I think trading for Beltran would be a bad move. He would be a rent-a-player, and it's not worth the price the Mets are asking (prospects, prospects and more prospects). Since the farm was already slaughtered during the Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez this past winter, I doubt Epstein would be willing to give up much in terms of prospects for Beltran.
Beltran is hitting at a pretty good clip of .287 this year, with 14 home runs and 59 RBI. His slugging percentage is .512 and his OBP is .381 for an OPS of .893. His WAR is 3.1, with an oWAR of 3.1 and a dWAR of 0.0.
I kid, I kid. Moving on.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are going through some tough times. With the Dodgers' bankruptcy and ownership debacle, the Red Sox might be able to get NL All-Star Andre Ethier at an exceptionally reduced price.
Ethier is a free agent after this season, so like Beltran, the Red Sox likely won't give up too much to get him. Ethier also isn't showing the power numbers this year as he has in the past. He's hit just nine home runs, but a move from Chavez Ravine to Fenway Park might help that.
Through 92 games, Ethier is hitting .304 with nine home runs and 44 RBI. His slugging percentage is .452 and his on-base percentage is .376 for an OPS of .829.
Ethier's WAR is 1.7 with an oWAR of 2.4 and a dWAR of -0.7.
Of course, all this speculation about whether the Red Sox will trade for a role player (Willingham, Francouer) or make a sexy trade (Beltran, Ethier) may be irrelevant. The Sox may just stand pat, with JD Drew and Josh Reddick platooning in right field.
I'm not convinced this is an entirely terrible option. In 66 at-bats this season, Reddick is hitting .379, has knocked in 17 RBI and hit three home runs. His OPS is 1.095, with a slugging percentage of .682 and an on-base percentage of .413. Reddick's WAR is 1.4, with an oWAR of 1.0 and a dWAR of 0.4
Drew, in 74 games, is hitting at a paltry .228 with four home runs and 22 RBI. He has an on-base percentage of .326 and a slugging percentage of .317 for an OPS of .643, all below career averages.
I know it's early, but it seems Reddick is more than making up for Drew's lackluster production this season.
I'm guessing that Darnell McDonald will go the way of Mike Cameron (that is, being DFA sometime in the very near future) and will likely be replaced by Ryan Kalish or maybe the Red Sox will keep Yamaico Navarro up in the majors.
With as well as Reddick has played, the Red Sox may not see the need to make a trade for any outfielder.
Regardless of what moves the Red Sox make, as long as they're winning I'll be happy.