Boston Red Sox Trade Speculation: Hunter Pence or Ubaldo Jimenez?
I would bet my house that the Boston Red Sox don't acquire either Ubaldo Jimenez or Hunter Pence before the trade deadline. That's not the point of this article.
The question I want to raise is: for the next three years, would you prefer an All-Star all-around right fielder or an All-Star ace pitcher?
The heart of this question, for me, lies not in statistical analysis (because how do you compare a pitcher to a position player?), but in impact to a team.
The conventional answer is the right fielder, who will play 150 games and contribute on a daily basis, would be the safe choice.
However, most teams buying at the trade deadline are contenders. The question then morphs into: who will help you win the next 60 games and the playoffs?
A contender, say the Red Sox, are usually all set at the plate. Sure, the Sox could use some production out of shortstop (not normally an offensive position) and right field (usually a very offensive position), but an extra ace for a playoff contender almost guarantees a deep playoff run.
A star pitcher is the better option because he decreases the opposition's offensive output by more than the right fielder increases his team's.
Rather, Jimenez will deter more runs than Pence will produce. It's not Wins Above Replacement (WAR) because that stat doesn't work between pitcher and outfielder. This is common sense.
We've seen it before: CC Sabathia carried the Milwaukee Brewers to the playoffs in 2008. Cliff Lee wins wherever he goes. Don't even get me started on Roy Halladay. I could watch him pitch every day.
Usually, I say grab as much offense as humanly possible. Offense, like Adrian Gonzalez, carries teams through the regular season. For a team that's all but sure to make the playoffs, like the Red Sox, snatch up that Cliff Lee type, game-changing pitcher.
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