Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: The curious and uninformed coveting of Mark Trumbo needs to stop

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LEADING OFF

If the answer is Mark Trumbo, I can only guess at what the question might be:

Which current all-or-nothing slugger’s top three career comps are Marcus Thames, Brandon Moss and Mike Jacobs?

Which Angels hitter are casual Red Sox fans unforgivably confusing with Mike Trout, probably because of his initials?

Which player acquisition would make us wonder whether Ben Cherington so emboldened by his brilliant 2012/13 offseason that he’s going for

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degree-of-difficulty points now?

Pardon the facetiousness, and I apologize if you’ve already endured my rants about this on Twitter earlier this week, but I’m just sort of stunned that anyone would think Trumbo, the 27-year-old Angel with 95 homers and a .299 on-base percentage in three seasons, would have much appeal to the Red Sox.

First, let’s eliminate any kind of notion that he’d be a suitable replacement for Mike Napoli should everyone’s favorite Boylston Street shirtless wanderer head elsewhere in free agency.

Napoli may look like a hacker upon a cursory glance at his statistics — he strikes out a ton, hits moonshot home runs, and has just an adequate batting average — but we know better around here. He is an expert at working the count and the more-than-occasional walk, an approach that was crucial in helping the Red Sox overcome the likes of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and David Price en route to that third World Series title in a decade.

Trumbo is nothing like that. He’s a free-swinger, one who will get himself out, and if you want to compare him to a current Red Sox righthanded hitter, take a hack at this. Here are Trumbo’s averages over 162 games in his career:

PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
653 605 77 151 28 33 100 6 41 164 .250 .299 .469 .768 114
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/15/2013.

And here are those belonging to Will Middlebrooks:

PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
633 590 72 150 31 31 99 7 32 161 .254 .294 .462 .756 102
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/15/2013.

Uncanny, right? Sure, I recognize there are some quirks here. Trumbo deserves a credit for essentially averaging those numbers over three seasons, while with Middlebrooks, the averages are based on two partial seasons and disregard his midsummer hiatus in Rhode Island.

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Trumbo is the more accomplished player at this point, and in an offseason in which there are exactly zero free agents who hit 30 or more homers, his consistent power (he had 34 this year) has some appeal.

But he’s also three years older than Middlebrooks, put up career-lows in batting, on-base, and slugging in ’13 (.234/.294/.453), and isn’t as capable defensively. I’m on record as being skeptical of what Middlebrooks might be going forward, and I think he gets traded this offseason. But all things considered, I’d take a chance on his future before Trumbo’s, a player who slipped in his age-27 season.

As you can probably tell, it drives me nuts when someone on my radio or in my inbox suggests the Sox should pursue Giancarlo Stanton or Trumbo, which is like saying you’ll pay the same amount for a classic Corvette or your weird aunt’s ’82 Chevette.

I mean, I heard one radio host say this week that the Red Sox should offer the Angels Middlebrooks and lefthander Felix Doubront for Trumbo. Said it seriously, too, completely unaware that Middlebrooks straight up for Trumbo would essentially be a wash without including the cost-effective 26-year-old lefthander who strikes out a batter per inning and just played an enormous if unheralded role in helping win the World Series.

Middlebrooks for Trumbo? OK, I get the suggestion, at least. Middlebrooks and Doubront for Trumbo?

Suddenly, that overmatched Seattle writer who left John Farrell off her Manager of the Year ballot is no longer the most clueless of her ilk.

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THE MAILBOX

Chad – I don’t see the logic in signing Stephen Drew long-term. You have Deven Marrero coming up quickly and can switch Xander Bogaerts to third and trade Middlebrooks if needed. I personally feel Middlebrooks would make a good first baseman and reminds me of Richie Sexson, tall and athletic.
— BoSox Fan

Depends how long Drew’s contract is. Two years would be perfect, three would be acceptable, and for the record, I don’t believe for a second that the Sox are out of the picture on him. He loved it here, they do want him back, and the attached draft pick probably curtails his market to some degree. That sounded like something between negotiating and posturing, not a farewell. Middlebrooks isn’t moving to first; much of his value is in his ability to play third base. I don’t think Marrero is a guaranteed solution to anything — he had a .655 OPS between Salem and Portland in 2013. His glove will get him to the majors, but will his bat allow him to stay there?

I normally hate the idea of tanking, but I think this year has to be an exception. I watched the college games on Tuesday and was surprised that all three guys lived up to the hype. This draft class is special, there are 3-4 franchise players and another 3-4 all stars.
— Arthur

If there’s any justice in the world, the Celtics end up with Jabari Parker, who is drawing comparisons to Paul Pierce that actually are pretty impossible to resist once you watch him play. It would be like the Colts going from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, not that we’d be putting any pressure on the kid or anything. As far as tanking goes, there’s no need to worry about it at this point. After watching the last three games, reality has set in: God bless their effort, but the Celtics are just lousy enough to lose by a couple of points to a bad team, and aren’t going to hold their own with any contenders unless its one of those nights where the opponent takes the W for granted. I’m recalibrating the over/under to 22.5 wins. And taking the under.

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If there was a local sports media draft, who would be the No. 1 pick?
— Brian

Bill Simmons doesn’t count as local anymore, agreed? Then it’s gotta be Felger. Co-host and driving force of the top-rated afternoon drive program, has about 47 shows on Comcast, and all of you guys talk about him even when you want to strangle him with his mic cord. In a related note, I’m desperately trying to trade down in that draft.

A lot of people are putting David Ortiz in the same sentence with Larry Bird, Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Bill Russell. I like him, but can’t think of him in those terms. Am I just getting old and ornery and Ortiz is in that class or do you, like me, think it’s a little overreaction to how good he was in World Series?
— Bob in Naples, Fla.

No Tom Brady on that list, Bob? You are ornery. I actually think he’s in that argument now. But the real context will come easier after he’s retired, when we watch the highlight films of the walkoffs, and all that he did in the 2004 and ’07 postseasons in particular, and see all of his ridiculous feats in one three-minute package, and then the truth will really hit home: the day the Red Sox signed him is on the short list of the most important in Red Sox history. Know what’s weird? He’s now passing some of those guys on the Boston longevity list. He’s played 11 years with the Sox. Orr played just 10 for the Bruins — nine-plus, really, since he was limited to 10 games in 1975-76. Bird was a Celtic for 13 years — the same as Russell. It’s conceivable that Papi could have a longer run here than all of them except for Brady, who somehow is now in Year 14.

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So…still think I did the right thing with that Tyler Seguin trade?
— Peter Chiarelli

Figure anyone who asks this after he has a four-goal game owns a Seguin sweater and already has an answer in mind that they want to hear. Hey, he’s been everything the Stars could have hoped for as a scorer, with a dozen goals, and that’s not much of a surprise — I mean, we all knew how skilled he is in that aspect. It’s the other stuff that will determine whether the Bruins gave up on him too soon. Is he going to be a one-dimensional player, or will the rest of his maddeningly incomplete game evolve? Will he take care of himself off the ice? Can he be a central figure on a winning team? There’s a long way to go, and because of Loui Eriksson‘s injury, we’re still not sure how much the Bruins got in return. Give it time before we jump to conclusions.
And please, stop suggesting that there’s no room for a “skilled” player in Claude Julien‘s system. He had his chances, and If Seguin had scored more than one goal in 22 playoff games last year, he’d probably still be here. To paraphrase what Jim Benning said on “Behind the B,” if he gives us half of what Patrick Kane gave Chicago, there’s another banner hanging in the Garden.
UNH’s Jackie MacMullan versus UMaine’s Chad Finn—who wins one-on-one hoops game? And who wins on the writeup about said clash of the titans?
— RIck in Va.

Ha. Well, Jackie wins the write-up for sure — I almost had to stop reading her columns during the Red Sox playoffs because they were so damn good (and always had stuff no one else had) that I’d get frustrated with my own work. She’s still one of those who sets the standard.
As far as hoops, I’ve heard she can bring it, though I’ve never played against her. So I’ve got to give her the nod there too. She actually played in college while I was an intramural chucker, and I can’t get through a game nowadays without injuring some body part I didn’t even know I had.
As for my own skills, my colleague Mike Carraggi hit it on the head after he got sick of my yapping in between up-fakes during a pickup game: “You have Rasheed Wallace‘s game, attitude, teeth, hair, and breath.” Zander Hollander never wrote a more spot-on player comment than that.
Until next Sunday, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

For some reason, I always laugh when the camera pans to Jim Paxson, Jack Sikma, and Kiki Vandeweghe at around the 1:50 mark. Call ’em the Translucent Trio.

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