Is Mike Cameron better than Jason Bay?

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Cameron.standard[1].jpgWho would you take, Mike Cameron or Jason Bay?

It seems like a silly question on the surface. Bay is widely considered the No. 2 position player on the free agent market behind Matt Holliday, while Cameron is largely ignored even in Milwaukee, where he has played the last two seasons.

Over at Fangraphs.com, though, Dave Cameron makes a strong case that Mike Cameron (no relation, I hope, otherwise this whole thing is a sham!) is actually the better player despite his age (36, while Bay just turned 31). Cameron will also come cheaper, making him the better value.

So how can a guy who hits for a lower average and less power (they both strike out a ton) be the better player? The answer is defense, dummy.

Cameron covers center field like a gazelle, while Bay only looks decent in left field at Fenway because Manny Ramirez preceded him there. A run saved is just as good as a run driven in right?

If you think Cameron’s on the verge of collapse (he’s shown no signs of it) and you don’t trust defensive metrics (in this case, the conclusions are pretty obviously true), then you think that they’re similarly valuable. In reality, the odds are pretty good that Cameron is going to outperform Bay next season, just as he’s done in most every season recently, and he’s going to do it for far less money.

If you want a right-handed hitting outfielder this winter, and you don’t want to pony up for Matt Holliday, Jason Bay is not the alternative. Call Mike Cameron instead.

OK. You’ve got me convinced. Now where did I leave my checkbook?

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.