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Dan Shaughnessy: Mookie Betts is ‘overrated’

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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.

 

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).