WiMP for Jermaine Dye? Ok Front Office, let's just step back and relax here. No need to panic. This is a bad trade. Walk away.
WiMP has received some gentle ribbing in this space from time to time but through it all I never lost the love for him. He's just one of those big lovable lugs who after striking out 4 times in a game you just look at and say, "Oh Wily, you big goof" (or something to that effect). After Manny and Pedroia, WiMP's probably my third favorite player on the team (though Ellsbury will overtake him when he makes the leap full-time). He's a freak. He's built like a defensive end, plays the outfield with a reckless abandon and has "light tower" power. Plus, he's got a pleasant on-field countenance in a Manny Ramirez meets Frankie Goes To Hollywood (of "Relax (Don't Do It)" fame) kind of way. He's hard not to like and pull for no matter how frustrating it is to watch him strike out almost 40% of the time. But since likability is not a "measurable" in the Bill Jamesian era value system, we'll need to pull out more info to combat the idea that Jermaine Dye is an improvement over Pena. Surpisingly, it's not that hard to do.
Ignoring this year, Dye's recent history suggests he is an elite corner outfielder. Last year in particular was Dye's "break out" year. 44 home runs, .315 average, 120 RBi and a slugging percentage of an absurd .622. That's one of the better non-A-Rod or Bonds seasons in the last 5 or so years. If you can get THAT kind of production for WiMP and Delcarmen, well then this trade doesn't just make sense, it makes the Red Sox the World Series favorites (not that they aren't already) as they'd have two guys named Manny Ramirez in their lineup (imagine a lineup that goes Manny, Ortiz, Manny... my zipper is sticky). The Sox would be working under the impression that Dye is underperforming and will reach a perceived "Jermaine Dye average" by year's end. But here's the problem: Jermaine Dye 2007 isn't an aberration in a Mike Lowell 2005 kinda way. 2007 Jermaine Dye is simply how Jermaine Dye normally plays. And given the same kinda opportunity, WiMP would outperform him.
Dye's career batting average is .274. His career OBP is .337, which is not horrible but is pretty awful. But what's even more striking is that his career slugging percentage is .484 and his career OPS is barely over .800. Kevin Millar has a higher OPS this year than Jermaine Dye's career average and he has 10 home runs (Dye's OPS this year ranks him at 103 overall). In his big 2006 his batting average was almost 50 points above his career average. His home run total was DOUBLE his career average and a full third higher than his previous best year. His OBP was 50 points higher and his slugging percentage was almost 150 points higher! He had his Brady Anderson / Adrian Beltre year last year (with none of the steroid rumors, I think). In this perceived "down year," Dye is only 35 points off his career average, is nearing his career average for home runs and is slightly below his normal OPS pace (though he's well below his normal OBP pace). He's having a bad year, yes. But the decrease in this year's performance PALES in comparison to how out of whack his 2006 stats were compared to his career average. Basically, 2007 Jermaine is much closer to Jermaine Dye than 2006 Jermaine Dye. Not to mention that he's 33 year and on the downside of an average career. But the argument is not whether or not Jermaine Dye is more 2006 than he is 2007. The argument is instead will Dye be a greater help to the 2007 Boston Red Sox than Wily Mo Pena (and his rights through 2008)? The answer is no, sort of.
It would be hard to argue that WiMP has lived up to the "hype." Signed to what was at the time the biggest non-drafted deal in league history at 17 years old by the the Yanks (after previously "signing" with the Mets), WiMP made his Major League debut at age 20 for the Reds. His batting cage prowess was legendary. He and Adam Dunn were seen as the future 1-2 combo in Cincy, until fans soon learned that neither could lay off the offspeed stuff and could potentially combine for over 400K's per year. And though WiMP still strikes out a ton (a "ton" is an understatement), his plate discipline has improved. He averages a walk every 12 ABs where he was at around 1 per 16 ABs three years ago. But to compare him to Dye you've got to get what he gives you over the course of a year compared to Dye and the value you get moving forward compared to that of Dye's.
WiMP's batting average in years that he has had 250 or more ABs is .269 compared to Dye's .271 average if you take out 2006. Last year WiMP hit .301. And while I'm quick to discount Dye's 2006, WiMP's 2007 gives you a little better glimpse of what he's capable of producing. For one, he was 24 years old last year and it's widely acknowledged that players don't peak until 27-28 while there is a precipitous drop in performance after 33. WiMP also hits around 18 home runs per year in almost half the at bats it takes Dye to hit those home runs. WiMP's OBP is about 20 points lower than Dye's career average and his slugging percentage is virtually the same as Dye's. But here's the real kicker (and the basis for my gripe with this trade). If you're projecting Dye and Wimp the rest of the way with the same amount of ABs, they'd give you about the exact same thing.
If you gave Wily Mo 200 ABs the rest of the way (assuming the Sox are really THAT frustrated with Drew), his prior history suggests he'd hit between 12-15 home runs, bat around .260-.270ish, get on base at around a .320 clip and strikeout 60 more times (that is amazing). If Dye put up those numbers over the close of the season after a trade, he would finish with 35 home runs and the trade would be viewed as a marked success. The papers would compare it to the Nomar / O-Cab deal of 2004. And then he would be 34 and he would hit free agency. If you keep WiMP, you get all of that production (with a few more K's) AND you have his rights in the offseason and could sign him long-term, deal him or see him through arbitration. And this doesn't even factor in the idea that the Sox are willing to part with one of their low 20's 96mph throwing relievers in Delcarmen or Masterson. It also doesn't factor in the FACT that the biggest hole in the Sox organization is a corner outfielder with power. Jermaine Dye is WiMP without the K's.
So here's my final assessment of this deal: when you make a deadline deal for the current season in which you rent a player, you either plug a hole or gain depth. In doing so you need to make sure you're dealing away a player that is not potentially a superstar or at least that you have enough depth in your organization where you can afford to lose that player. You also need to be fairly sure that if the player you are trading is on your roster that they guy replacing him has the ability to outperform him. In this situation, Jermaine Dye and Wily Mo Pena project to play out there last 200 ABs of the season in a similar fashion. If that's the case, why are you getting rid of the 25 year-old freak and grabbing the 33 year-old Brady Anderson? I know the Sox are always itching to pull a deal and the media and fanbase is nuts, but this time Theo and the Sox need to take deep breath and a queue from Wily Mo and Frank Goes To Hollywood: