I had been thinking about this, and Evan mentioned it as well.  But
would the Red Sox be better off letting Jason Bay walk?  Would they be
better off taking the draft picks, finding a one-year stopgap.  And
hopefully letting Josh Reddick take over the position, at a very cheap
price, and under club control for a while?

Look, we all know there is risk in expecting young players to
contribute before they might be ready.  Clay Buchholz was supposed to
be the guy in 2008, supposed to be that ace.  But he wasn’t, and still
isn’t–although improved.  Simply put, we don’t know how good Josh
Reddick will be.  We expect big things, or good things, but we don’t
know.  So putting faith in prospects does have its risks.

However, signing veterans to long term contracts also has risks. 
Jason Bay is not an up-the-middle defender.  He is not 26–although not
old by any means either.  And he is a sub-par defender according to any
defensive metric that matters.  As he may not be atrocious in left, but
he is far from good.  And corner outfielders do impact a game much less
than the premium positions do, at least in terms of run prevention.

One aspect of all this is cost.  How much will it cost to retain
Jason Bay?  If Bay commands a five-year deal, then no way.  Move on and
definitely take the picks.  But what about, say, three years?  Three
years, maybe $45 million?  Well, that would definitely be appealing. 
Bay, after all, is not a great player.  Even though his salary would
assume he was great, the years wouldn’t keep the organization from
doing what they want down the road.  Three years wouldn’t hinder much.

And it doesn’t have to be Josh Reddick either.  Although that would be great if it was. But there are other options:

  • Carl Crawford is younger than Bay, and will be a free agent
    after 2010.  The current Rays left fielder is a great defender, who can
    play some center if necessary.  He is a beast on the base-paths.  And
    although he may be overachieving a tad this season, he may not be
    either.  His ‘WAR’ is an awesome 4.1 already, and there is much of the
    season yet to be recorded in the books.  Right in the midst of his
    prime, this may be what Crawford is for the next 3-4 years.  If not
    this great, then really good.
  • Johnny Damon (Evan’s suggestion).  Damon is producing as
    well as ever.  Granted, his value took a hit when he shifted from
    center to left due to ineffectiveness.  But his bat is as good as
    ever.  If he would accept a one-year deal, it might be the perfect
    stopgap until Reddick is ready.  Or until the Red Sox could pursue
    Crawford, or someone else.
  • Matt Holliday is suspect.  His numbers in the AL weren’t
    great, although he was adjusting to a new league, a new environment,
    and really a new life.  Away from Colorado, we simply do not know if he
    capable of being great.  It is still unknown.  Plus, he is a Boras
    client that will probably ask for way more than he is worth.  So
    although Holliday is an option, he isn’t all that intriguing of one,
    not to me anyway

Basically, how much do the Red Sox want to invest into a corner
outfielder who is not a great player?  It was nice to get him and still
have a chance for the rest of 2008, and all of 2009.  He replaced Manny
well enough.  But he isn’t a great player.  His ‘WAR’ this season is
1.9.  That is closer to average than it is great.  Because, in most
part, due to positional adjustment and quality of defense.  Both of
which hurt Bay’s overall value.

But of course, one season of data isn’t logical with many other
years available.  In 2008, cumulatively with both the Pirates and Red
Sox, Bay was a 2.9 ‘WAR’ player.  According to Fangraphs, that kind of
play was worth $13.2 million.  Now, who knows how much that matters, as
the open market dictates how much Bay is worth.  But it is something to
go on to try and gain perspective on the subject.

Jason Bay is a good solid player.  But he isn’t great.  So what are
your thoughts, readers.  Do you think the Red Sox should lock him up to
an extension?  Do you suggest another alternative?  How much is our
left fielder worth?