Red Sox spare part outfield options
Nov 1, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) grounds out in the 12th inning against the New York Mets in game five of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The latest to surface from the rumor mill is the Red Sox may have a significant interest in pursuing Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals – a prime free agent possibility. But what about the very basic complementary piece? Spare parts that apply to the outfield and are a part of that management equation to seek additional support that is not necessarily an All-Star or a regular elsewhere -essentially a fourth outfielder. The early prognostication is that the outfield will resemble what was presented in the latter games of 2015. The configuration of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Defensively, this is an excellent group that can be interchangeable – unless signings and trades take place.
Defensively, according to fangraphs, the Red Sox outfield was ranked seventh among the 15 American League teams. The defensive UZR/150 was -0.7. That may seem a bit harsh until you go a wee bit deeper. The right field contingent was second in the league with a UZR/150 of 9.6 and center field was fifth at UZR/150 of 1.5.
So two out of three ain’t bad unless a ball is stroked to left field and that is where UZR/150 was -3.2. That remedy for left field malfeasance was corrected when Hanley Ramirez – ranked dead last among qualifiers and non-qualifiers – was removed from further destruction.
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What surprised me is Betts checking in at a UZR/150 of zero. However, Bradley was third in the league at 22.2 and Castillo sixth at 19.2. The eyeball test showed that all three had the range, arm, acrobatic skills and gap closing speed combined with instincts to be an élite defensive outfield.
The glove is one item of equipment and the bat is another. The Boston outfielders finished ninth in the American League in WAR at 19.1, but that was certainly skewered with some members departed and others in a flux. The “Big Three” as now formulated have mixed results. Betts you can simply put down as an All-Star for 2016. Bradley came back to the nest and lit it up until a dismal September left a pocket full of question marks. Castillo may or may not be Yoenis Cespedes.
The Red Sox need some outfield depth if non Betts performers cause some fan hand wringing. This would mean beating the trade market or free agent listing for a player who will not have embarrassing at bats, be versatile enough to cover a minimum of two outfield spots and will not go into a personal funk if 300+ at bats are not reached.
Now for a few items that may be on the free agent wish list.