You've probably at least seen Dan Julien's diary on the right with a link to his summaries and statistical analysis of Epstein's trade work as Red Sox GM. It's certainly illuminating. One of the great things if you're using statistical analysis is that it makes it easy to identify the winners and losers in a trade. VORP, WARP, WS, OPS+ and ERA+ (amongst others) are pretty easy stats to find on the internet these days.
However, it doesn't tell the whole story. Can't blame Dan for this, he simply puts the facts out there for us on the stats in an easy-to-read format. It's great work. A couple of the trades where context beyond stats can be helpful are these:
1. Shea Hillenbrand for Byung-Hyun Kim.
Wow. If there are two Red Sox personalities since the Carl Everett (or Jurassic) Era with somewhat dubious personalities to match their somewhat dubious skillset, it's these two. We lost this trade, because Hillenbrand was a more valuable player than Kim for the most part in terms of VORP. Some other things are important to note here, however. Hillenbrand's departure allowed the Red Sox to play Bill Mueller and David Ortiz everyday: Bueno. It's also important to note that while BK flamed out at the end, he was solid in the bullpen in 2003, saving 16 with an ERA+ of 148. Another thing, and I don't mean to offend Dan with this, but I think it's hard to say Hillenbrand batted "well" with OPS+ of 92 and 106. OPS+ of 100 is average. Hillenbrand was right around that, while playing most of his "defense" at first base. OPS+ of 106, in particular, would be fairly acceptable from a pure leadoff hitter at 2B or in CF(this guy for example). Call me a Theo apologist, but this one might be more accurately called a wash, considering all of the surrounding issues.
2. Dave Roberts for Ramon Vasquez, He Who Shall Not Be Named, and David Pauley.
Dan is a little too even-handed about this one. This trade was a very bad one, and not just because of HWSNBN. Pauley could still have 4th starter potential. After his great effort in the Bronx last season (this was impressive, no matter the eventual outcome), I figured he would go down to AAA and be full of confidence from his success on one of the biggest stages in American sports. That did not end up being the case. Vasquez was turned into Alex Cora, thank goodness. Why Vasquez has a role on any team is beyond me. He can't hit, he's not particularly fast, and while not a butcher, he's hardly a defensive whiz. It ended up being the right thing to do, giving Roberts a chance at a starting job in the NL. This also allowed us to have 'the steal' as our final sight of Roberts playing as a Red Sox. We were unequivocably the losers in any kind of baseball sense when considering this trade.
3. HWSNBN for Chad Bradford
You're probably getting this by now, but I was not and still am not a fan of this guy. As can be seen in Dan's article, we lost in VORP. We gained in team morale and entertaining pitching deliveries. A starting corner OF should have an OPS+ above 100. Payton is consistently in the 90s. A decent 4th OF who feels entitled to a starting job for a slightly above-average RP is okay in my book. We should have re-signed Bradford.
A couple other points:
- While he'll probably be above-average over his career, I'm glad we probably won't hear as much about Matt Murton as we will about Hanley Ramirez or others. Unlike Hanley, Sanchez, or Marte, I'm not sure where he would've fit. He's a similar hitter to Kevin Youkilis, which would've been great if he could've played a MI position.
- Dan's right. Few of the trades work out in our favor. Possibly something Theo needs to work on, though sometimes trades aren't done for the purposes of improving a team through that move alone (see Abreu, Bobby; Gillick, Pat; Cashman, Brian; and the term: Salary dump).
- Check out his analyses of the other GMs that are available. Always nice to have some perspective on what other teams are doing.
- Just in time for the New Year, I should have another Know Thine/Better Know An Enemy up on Monday. As with last time, though nobody did, requests will not be ignored entirely.