John Henry’s recent comments about how the Red Sox have “perhaps overly relied on numbers” in recent years and became too focused on analytics drew quite a bit of reaction from around baseball, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes. MLB Network’s Brian Kenny believes “the enemy of the Red Sox is impatience, not analytics,” noting that properly analyzing the numbers could’ve told Boston that Jackie Bradley or Rusney Castillo wouldn’t be stars overnight, or that Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval were risky signings. On the other hand, some scouts praised the Sox for their apparent turn to traditional evaluation over sabermetrics. The Red Sox have been at the forefront of the analytics movement over the last 15 years, so if they succeed in this new direction, Cafardo wonders if other teams could follow suit. Here’s more from Cafardo’s latest column…
- Cafardo points to one notable victory for scouting over analytics from 2011, when the Rays’ then-top scout convinced Andrew Friedman to obtain Chris Archer as part of the eight-player blockbuster that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs. The scout was sold on Archer, while Friedman’s analytics evaluation were pointing him towards righty Chris Carpenter, who ended up pitching only 15 2/3 innings at the MLB level.
- There’s still “a lot of interest” in Jorge Soler on the trade market, which is an option for the Cubs as they sort out their crowded outfield. With Dexter Fowler rather unexpectedly returning to Chicago, the Cubs have Jason Heyward playing every day in right (or sometimes center) and then Fowler, Soler, Kyle Schwarber and possibly minor league signee Shane Victorino all juggling for playing time, plus Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez also capable of playing left.
- The Brewers are still considering a Jonathan Lucroy trade, as “there’s still buzz in the scouting community” that a deal could come in Spring Training. Lucroy would have to prove himself healthy in the wake of a 2015 season shortened by a concussion and a fractured toe. If he looks good in Cactus League action, that could be enough for another team to pull the trigger on a deal.
- It’s been a quiet offseason for Marlon Byrd rumors, as Cafardo notes that the veteran outfielder “isn’t getting much love on the market.” Interest in Byrd could pick up as teams sort through their roster options, however, and Cafardo lists the Angels, Blue Jays and Orioles as speculative fits. Byrd had 24 homers and an .847 OPS as recently as the 2013 season, but while he’s still managed to hit for power (48 homers) over the last two years, the 38-year-old’s batting average and OBP have fallen off considerably.