Cespedes, Red Sox Plan B In Effect


Remember when Yoenis Cespedes threw that runner out at home from left field, last season? That is one of the most memorable moments of the short time Cespedes spent with the Boston Red Sox. After not being able to resign Jon Lester, Cespedes was used as a trading chip to land another quality starting pitcher to their rotation. The Detroit Tigers bit on the opportunity, sending Rick Porcello to Boston for Cespedes.

FoxSports.com reported yesterday that Boston was not jumping to trade their newly-acquired asset so soon. “We were not looking to trade Yoenis Cespedes,” Boston general manager Ben Cherington said. “But as we got into the offseason and looked at what our alternatives were, and we needed to build our rotation, and the depth we had in the outfield — we feel good about the outfield group that we have. Just felt it made sense.” As both Cespedes and Porcello will become free agents after next season, it does make sense to keep a player who is cheaper and fills a major gap in the roster.

The 29-year-old outfielder from Cuba did not have much time to impress the Fenway faithful, who must wonder if this tactic was at least Plan B all along for Cherington. Was the plan to get a big name to Boston to quell the swelling anger that the fans felt, seeing their beloved club drown in the depths of the American League East division? Was the plan always to use that name as insurance? If Lester resigned, they would have two all-star players next season. If Lester went elsewhere, was the plan to use that name to get another pitcher, while stacking the outfield with other big names? More than likely.

As much as Cherington says that it was never part of the plan, should Red Sox fans have a problem with that? It seemed to have worked, at least on paper.

In 51 games for the Red Sox, Cespedes hit .269 with an on-base percentage of .296, gaining only 7 walks to striking out 48 times. He did knock in 33 RBIs at key moments in ballgames; however, the 2014 home run king only hit 5 long balls over the fence in 201 at-bats. Taking into consideration that the Green Monster was not supposed to frighten a man like Cespedes, who showed that he has the slugging power of a titan in Oakland, the home run total was disappointing at best. He was to feast in Beantown, but ended up looking full.

Cespedes’ approach to the plate was fairly typical of young talent who attract people to the big bash. He hit more flyballs than groundouts, only hitting 9.6% of those rising drives out of the park. What makes Cespedes a bit more attractive than most of these types of hitters is his plate discipline. He swings at just above 50% of the total pitches thrown his way, and only swung about 37% of those pitches out of the strike zone.

It could be that Cespedes was trying a bit harder than when he played for the Athletics, in an attempt to win fans over in his new home. This is only speculation. He was just not making contact as well as he had in the past. Clearly, Detroit thinks that he can rediscover his power next season, and are willing to pay his $10.5 million to find out for sure. The Red Sox feel that Porcello’s eligibility for arbitration this upcoming season, after making $8.5 million in 2014, will be worth more than Cespedes’ value in Boston. Only time will tell.

Until then, thank you Yoenis. We hardly knew ye, and, apparently, that might have been the plan all along.

** All swing statistics were used from fangraphs.com