After trading Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies in order to free up $6 million, the Red Sox have given corner outfielder Cody Ross a one-year deal worth $3 million. The former NLCS hero was worth just 0.9 WAR last season, but he still managed to have a decent 102 wRC+. Ross is slightly below average on defense, and his -5.5 UZR contributed to the drop in overall value for Ross. Sox fans are getting restless, because the team needs to sign a starting pitcher to make good on trading Scutaro. They should have enough money left to sign Roy Oswalt, or somebody else, and adding Ross to platoon with Ryan Sweeney in right field is a solid, minor fix for this team.
Based on his projections, Cody Ross is a 1 WAR player. However, he was worth an average of 2.6 WAR per season from 2007-2010. Ross is still above-average offensively, but his ISO has decreased over the past few seasons. As a corner outfielder, a sudden wall-like decline shouldn’t be expected at the age of 30, and Ross is closer to a 1.5 WAR player than a 1 WAR player. His 2011 UZR had too much of an effect on his WAR, and he is about a -1 to -2 run fielder who was penalized a little too much. In any case, expect a better UZR, and a higher WAR because of it, next season. He isn’t that far removed from his string of four solid seasons and should be able to help Boston out.
Most players of Ross’s skill level are paid $6 million a year, which means that the Red Sox were able to get him to take a %50 pay cut. At the beginning of the offseason, he was asking for three, and later two, years before realizing that teams are unwilling to give a 1.3 WAR player, who is 31 years old, coming off of a disappointing season multiple years. However, he has the chance to improve in Boston and is set up to succeed.
In his career, Cody Ross has a 135 wRC+ against lefties and a 91 wRC+ against righties. That is the difference between a middle-of-the-order hitter and a below-average No. 7 hitter. His platoon partner, Ryan Sweeney, is solid against righties (career 104 wRC+) but struggles mightily against similar handed pitchers (63 wRC+ vs. lefties). Both hitters have a much better chance of success with their new team because of this platoon set-up and the fact that Fenway is much friendlier than AT&T and the Coliseum. In fact, AT&T is the best pitcher’s park in baseball (according to ESPN’s Park Factors), while Fenway is the third best hitter’s park.
The Red Sox still have some money left over to sign the starting pitcher they desperately need, and they were able to sign an above-average hitter who can help create an effective platoon in right field. Sweeney is not an ideal starter, and Cody Ross has the power and overall skill to perform well in Fenway and have a .330 wOBA. The Sox are now at least a win better than they were before making this deal, and they still have the cash left over ($3 million is nothing in baseball) to acquire Oswalt or maybe Edwin Jackson.
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