Friday, July 30, 2004

Sox should think twice before jumping at Floyd

As the clock ticks closer to this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox look like they need some offensive help. Enter the Cliff Floyd rumors.

Some sources are reporting that the Mets are interested in Kris Benson from the Pirates, and will trade Ty Wiggington, plus a couple prospects –- one of which will come from the Sox for Cliff Floyd. That prospect is rumored to be Ryan Sweeney.

I don’t know how likely this deal is, because it doesn’t make a lot of sense for either New York or Chicago. The Mets could use another pitcher, but this deal would take a bat out of their lineup, which they can ill-afford to do without a replacement on hand (which they don’t have). And while Floyd could boost a sagging Sox lineup (he’s hitting .285/.357./.498 through Thursday), his contract runs for another two years a $6.5 million per year.

While moving to U.S. Cellular Field could boost Floyd’s stats even higher, this would probably be a poor investment for the Sox. Here’s a look at some of Floyd’s totals over the past few years.

Year AGE OPS Games Played
2000 27 .907 121
2001 28 .968 149
2002 29 .920 146
2003 30 .895 103
2004 31 .855 70 (out of 101)

Before you begin to wonder if playing in Shea Stadium this year and last year are making his overall numbers look bad, I’ll point out that Floyd’s OPS+ -- which takes park factors into account -- for those five years are 130, 150, 152, 143, 146.

The arcing trend suggests that Floyd has hit his peak, and stands to decline further. That’s an important consideration for a team that would have to pick up the last two year of his contract for a total cost of $13 million.

But just as important as the money and level of performance are the health issues that Floyd brings with him. Not once in his career has he played a full schedule, the closest he’s come being 152 games in 1998. That was the only time he’s played as many as 150.

Considering that Floyd has already missed 30 percent of his team’s games this season, and that he’s not getting any younger, could the Sox even count on him to help a lineup already devastated by injuries to its top two hitters?

Now, I don’t think the Sox farm system would be seriously hurt by the loss of Sweeney. He has yet to swing the bat at even the AA level, and like any prospect he probably has as much of a chance at being the next McKay Christiansen as the does of being the next Andy Van Slyke. But Sweeney is highly regarded, and if the Sox deal him for a hitter, it would be nice if they could either get a better hitter, or one without the long-term commitment.

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