We’ve talked a good bit about how the Red Sox are apparently trying to slash payroll and how they could very well trade Mookie Betts in order to do it.
Our view is that it’s a preposterous idea on a number of levels because (a) the Sox basically print money and thus shouldn’t be slashing payroll; and (b) Mookie Betts is probably the best player they’ve developed since Carl Yaztrzemski, and you don’t send off guys like that just to save a few million bucks.
We still don’t know for sure what the clubs plans on doing with Betts, but today’s Dan Shaugnessy column seems like it was written as part of an effort to float the idea of a trade to see how it plays.
Shaugnessy’s general argument — after simply asserting that Betts is “overrated” — is that while he’s good, “he’s not Mike Trout good.” Which, OK, Dan, you’ve managed to name the one player in the entire game that everyone would pick before Betts. Not really seeing that as an “ah, yeah, you’re right, Betts is overrated point,” but let’s leave that aside. He then goes on to compare Betts to two previous Red Sox greats who were traded at around this point in their careers: Fred Lynn and Nomar Garciaparra.
To make that comparison, Shaughnessy uses mostly raw counting stats like RBI — he also uses batting average — and makes glib characterizations of their respective defensive skills. He, of course, doesn’t adjust for era or include even moderately advanced stats like WAR which show Betts to be the far superior player. I mean, through his first six full seasons — 1975-1980 — Lynn totaled 31.3 bWAR. That’s really good! Betts, though, has posted 42.0 bWAR. And, unlike Lynn, Betts’ first season in that span was a partial season. If you included Lynn’s brief callup in 1974, Betts’ advantage over their first six seasons is even greater. Betts was better than Garciaparra by that measures as well. It’s really not plausible to claim otherwise.
Yet, that’s Shaughnessy’s take. A take that, it just so happens, would be useful for the Red Sox if it took hold among fans out there because it’d make trading Betts seem more palatable. I don’t think it’s gonna take hold, though. I have a hard time imagining anyone really buying it.