Thursday, December 05, 2013

More on Free Agency : Hot-blooded

The simple reality is that with more money floating around chasing fewer free agents (more promising talent being locked up early, like Evan Longoria), it creates a seller's market. Jacoby Ellsbury, Scott Kazmir, and Hunter Pence (among others) take advantage of that reality.

In Boston, we like our players to show emotion, outward manifestations that they care. That doesn't mean that we can't embrace a 'cold-blooded' performer doing his job, like Ellsbury, and good looks aside, his personality and affection for the audience (engagement) never matched his ability. One can legitimately ask, "is that a problem for you?"

If the Sox could field twenty-five baseball-playing, fire-breathing robots, cleverly manufactured in Bill James' baseball laboratory, and win the World Series every year, would that be enough for us? Conversely, how should we feel about media-friendly self-promoters, who underachieve yet develop a cult following.

The raw numbers look pretty good, but for the last SIX seasons in Boston, this popular player had an AVERAGE WAR (wins above replacement) of 1.3. The OPS looks pretty good, but are the numbers tainted by the era? We'll never know and nobody ever said Gator Greenwell looked like The Hulk.

Do I want robots or glad-handers on the field? Does a player need to be one or the other? With the media sophistication and media education available, there's no reason why a productive player can't also be at least media-responsive or 'trained up' to do so.

And if you're paying hundreds of millions of dollars to a guy, wouldn't you want him to establish a greater connection with your fans?

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