Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sox trade Roberts and get Payton and others in return

All Red Sox fans will always remember where they were the second Dave Roberts stole second base in game 4 of the ALCS. For Red Sox fans, it is one of those moments that led to a life changing event when the Sox won the World Series. People will be telling there kids 30 years from now the story of Dave Roberts, and how he jump-started the greatest comeback in ALCS history. October 17th is one night among many, that I will never forget because of my beloved Red Sox and that stolen base.

I am not going to recount Game 4, because most of you watched it live, or have heard it about it since. If you are a person who lives a caveman like life and have never heard the story of Dave Roberts and his 9th inning stolen base, you can read it here. As great is that stolen base was, Dave Roberts was not going to fit into the 2005 Red Sox plans. He had told the front office that he wanted to start, and Theo Epstein agreed that he would not be able to give him more playing time than a 4th outfielder. Theo just traded Roberts yesterday to the Padres for Jay Payton, Ramon Vazquez, and minor league right hander David Pauley.

At first hearing this news, I was horrified. Not because the Sox had traded Dave Roberts, which I knew was inevitable, but because we had taken Jay Payton back in return. I do not have anything against Jay Payton, but I do have something against his contract for 2005 of 3.5 million. After about a half hour, I found an article that said the Sox would be getting 2.65 million from the Padres in the deal. This completely changed the nature of the deal. I went from horrified to being satisfied. I went from wondering what in the world Theo was doing, to praising this move. Let me tell you why.

Last year, Gabe Kapler was our 4th outfielder and he did a great job in that role and made $750,000. I was hoping for another type of player like Kapler who could come and fill in and platoon with Trot Nixon against lefties. Payton over the past three years has hit .275/.346/.461 (average, OBP, and SLG.) against lefties. Trot Nixon over the same three years has hit .220/.293/.348 against lefties. Payton will fill the role perfectly that Kapler had last year. My only concern about Payton is that over the course of his career he has predominantly played center field, and left field, and hardly any right field. Adjusting to Fenway's right field will be an experience, and expect a few errors by Payton in the early going as part of the learning process of playing right field in Fenway Park.

So, since the Padres picked gave the Sox 2.65 million in the trade, Payton only winds up costing the Sox $850,000, which is $100,000 more than Kapler cost last year. Considering Kapler went to play in Japan and go 2 million dollars a year to play there this was obviously a better road for the Sox to take.

The Sox also received Ramon Vazquez in the deal. Ramon Vazquez is entering his fifth year in MLB, and he has mostly been a backup all his career. He has spent time playing third, shortstop, and second base every year he has been in the majors. He might not be Pokey Reese, but he is a capable backup that can give Edgar Renteria or Mark Bellhorn a chance to rest every so often. David Pauley was also acquired in the deal with the Padres. Pauley is a pitcher who has never spent time above single A. Briefly looking at his single A stats, he looks like a guy who is having some control problems, as he is allowing 3.5 walks per 9 innings. The good thing is that Pauley is only 21, so he still has some time to fix his control problems.

This was a great trade by the Sox. It's not a trade where every Sox fan is going to be jumping up and down in December. It is a trade that will be looked on favorably during the season, when Jay Payton is hitting well against the lefties, and Trot Nixon is performing as usual and mashing righties. When you add in that a capable backup and a minor league pitcher were included in the deal, there is nothing more than you can see but thank you Dave Roberts and great trade Theo.



At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All very good points. I agree totally. Roberts didn't fit in the plans this year, it was obvious. Clearly I will never forget where I was when Roberts stole that base. I was in the Centerfield bleachers, holding my breath during the pickoffs, then cheering like crazy when he stole 2nd and was driven in by Billy Mueller.

Payton here is a good pickup. A little less defense than Kappy, but a better hitter. Pauley and Vazquez seem like bonuses to me. Vazquez will become the Gutierrez or backup middle infielder which is a need.

One other thing.....when you said this "It's not a trade where every Sox fan is going to be jumping up and down in December."...........this is a quote that could have been used when Dave Roberts was picked up the same day, in a different deal, than the Nomar trade. But we all know what kind of difference Roberts made on this team. Hopefully Payton or Vazquez can make even half the difference Roberts did.


At 12:48 AM, Blogger matt said...


Excellant points all around. Everything you said I agree with. When we traded Henri Stanley for Dave Roberts I was happy that we were getting speed, but I had no idea the kind of impact he would have. As Red Sox fans we can only hope that this trade works out as good as that one.


At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, I thought stolen bases were unimportant! At least, this is what the Moneyball folks have been saying...

Good stuff, Matt.



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