I always cringe when I listen to Bill Simmons talk about the Red Sox. I understand the clout he holds in the realm of Boston sports fandom, and respect his ability to inject fandom into mainstream media coverage in a reputable way. He is the prototype for forums like SBNation, and for that fans and even bloggers like me owe him a debt of gratitude for allowing for these types of platforms.
But he's a Celtics guy, first and foremost. And even the mere suggestion that Mookie freakin Betts could be dealt for Giancarlo Stanton this season (or ever) enraged me enough to start furiously typing.
On his most recent episode of "The Bill Simmons Podcast" he brought his dad on to discuss a pu pu platter of Red Sox topics, which led to a discussion on Giancarlo Stanton and a potential trade to Boston. Stanton recently cleared waivers because, well, he's owed buckets of money from now until eternity ($295 million, to be exact.)
Simmons, alongside his guest Mallory Rubin (who knows far more about baseball than he does), introduces the topic by somehow deciding it would be impossible to pry Stanton from Miami without parting with one of: Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, or Mookie Betts. This is A) almost certainly made up, B) not true, and C) categorically false.
As the voice of reason, Rubin introduces the conversation by saying:
"You don't want to part with Devers for Stanton. You're not going to say goodbye to Betts or Benintendi."
Simmons comes back by half-heartedly agreeing, then spouting:
"Betts is overqualified for this trade, but on the other hand I think he's a couple years away from really getting paid. You could argue Stanton's an upgrade."
Simmons then asks his dad whether he would trade Betts, Benintendi, or Devers for Stanton. His dad, without hesitation, says he would, and decides Betts would be the one of those three he'd part with (another ludicrous decision, but that's a separate discussion).
So, to get this straight: He wants to think about trading Mookie Betts for Giancarlo Stanton because Mookie Betts is a few years from getting a contract that will still be smaller than Stanton's contract is right now. That's some roundabout logic.
It is an absurd, baseless, utterly misguided thought, and there are several hundred reasons why.
The first — and perhaps least important — reason: Mookie Betts is better at baseball than Giancarlo Stanton. I deem that to be a relevant point when discussing a(n) (im)possible baseball trade.
Say what you want about WAR -- and there are flaws — but it is a stat that helps provide a complete picture of a player's value independent of his team around him.
Mookie Betts' WAR in the last three seasons: 20.7
Stanton's best season, by WAR, is still a full three wins lower than Betts' total last season, when, I'll point out, he finished second in the MVP race. Betts is three years younger than Stanton. Stanton has had notable injury issues, Betts has not (knock on wood). Betts is a significantly superior defender, especially considering the perils of replacing him with even an average defender in Fenway's right field. And Betts still makes less than a million dollars this year and cannot be a free agent until 2021.
Oh, by the way, Giancarlo Stanton is just beginning his 13 year, $325 million contract. That matters a ton, even when you're adding a player who might his 60 home runs this season. This is an ownership group that has, contrary to national narrative, prioritized staying under the luxury tax, at least for now.
The idea of Giancarlo Stanton playing at Fenway Park is undeniably enticing. He is the perfect replacement for Papi, and instantly makes the Red Sox the favorites in the American League this year. I am willing to have a civil discussion about whether they should just bite the contractual bullet and place the best power hitter of the last decade into Boston. I am not willing to have any such conversation if Mookie Betts is mentioned.
So, Bill Simmons, I kindly ask you to stop peddling any sort of notion that Betts could be had for Stanton. Stick to what you know best: NBA trade machine witchcraft and "Ewing Theory" scenarios.
Every sensible Red Sox fan.