Re: Reds acquire Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald for Drew Stubbs and Didi Gregorious
Originally Posted by M2
I'll start with the last part first: I agree. The bat upgrade is kind of huge. I actually think this is a very Moneyball move. If you look at the CFs who've been signed or traded this winter - Upton, Pagan, Span, Revere - none of them is a true impact bat. They have some moderate offensive ability, but they aren't game changers. Choo is. The market inefficiency in CF is big bats. If you can find a Choo-like bat who can handle the defensive duties well enough, then you're talking about some real separation from the pack. Moving Choo to CF strikes me as the kind of crazy that moved Scott Hatteberg to 1B.
That's probably a fair guesstimate on his defense. One thing I'll add is a RF to CF shift probably isn't all that linear. The reality is very few RFs make a full-time switch to CF. It usually works the other way around and it usually happens while the guy is still a fair defender in CF. Andre Dawson shifts to RF. Vlad Guerrero doesn't shift to CF. So the standard metric adjustment is based largely on a rightward defensive spectrum shift.
I think you touched on something key when you mentioned Choo's speed. Dude is fast. Fast conquers a lot of imperfections in CF. When you look at who the RFs are that can make any kind of permanent shift to CF, the answer would seem to be "the fast ones." This is why I brought up Sr.'s 1981 CF shift earlier in the thread. He wasn't an outstanding RF, but he was fast. As it turned out, he was pretty much the same fielder in CF that he was in RF. He got the job done well enough.
If you're looking for a modern equivalent, Alejandro De Aza seems to be that kind of guy. It doesn't seem to matter where he plays in the OF, you get the same forgettably competent defense out of him. He's a real wherever man. His teammate Alex Rios might be the same sort of cat. Mind you, it's tough to say anything definitive about Rios because he's one of the most maddeningly inconsistent ballplayers of modern times. Some seasons he forgets how to play baseball. Yet in 2010 he was a perfectly acceptable CF.
And there's an argument that CarGo is actually better in CF than he is in the corners.
So the question, and we have no way of knowing the answer, is whether Choo's cut from that mold. Complicating matters is getting a fix on what kind of fielder Choo is in RF. According to his numbers, he was solid from 2009-2011 and then had a dog of a 2012. Was that a tipping point? Was it an anomaly? Do you take his three-year average or should you do four since he was banged up in 2011? His defense is a bit of an ink blot test.
Projecting him as a moderately poor CF is a reasonable starting point. He could be a disaster out there or he could turn out to be furiously average. For now, somewhere in between strikes me as a decent placeholder.
My take on Choo's defense is that he's "fast not natural" so he can compensate. I wouldn't fixate on 2012 unless there is an underlying, compelling reason to believe his trueskill has deterioratated (injury etc). His poor numbers were almost entirely due to range. But the top of the heep of RF defense last year was populated with some excellent defenders-there were a bunch of gold glove awards on the the walls of the guys above him. I think Choo's 2012 defensive numbers are skewed a bit by "cohort" bias.
Probably a good place to start with estimating his defensive worth is to look at his career UZR/150 in RF (-2.7 in 5067 innings). If someone wanted to argue he looked worse due to the talent distribution in right during 2012 (he wasn't dinged for a change in his talent but rather he was dinged by a change in the distribution of talent he was comapred to), I wouldn't quibble with characterizing him as a neutral corner defender.
I get why Walt did what he did.
"This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner