Goodbye, Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts doing you know whatDave Roberts will go down in history as the person that had the signifying move in the Red Sox’s 2004 Possible Dream Team. I was lucky enough to be at that game, the only 2004 Red Sox postseason game that I attended. I remember being excited that Dave Roberts was acquired by the Red Sox.

Dave Roberts is making a well earned $0.98 million (and is arbitration eligible, I believe), and in my opinion, is earning every cent. This is one of the guys I love. I mean, look at this:
In other words, although he doesn-t play a full season-s worth of games and only gets about half as much at-bats as a regular player does, the guy is a speed demon. 40 stolen bases in 2003 with 388 at-bats? You have got to be kidding me. This guy is going to wreak havoc for us. A great, great pickup by Theo Epstein at a cheap price (Henri Stanley). He will have no problem being a fourth outfielder and we will throw him in the game as a late defensive replacement and pinch-runner. This guy has the ability to change the outcome of a game in the late innings. He is going to be a valuable addition to the club.

Oh, I’d say he changed the outcome of a game, wouldnt you?
In 45 games, 86 at-bats for the Red Sox, Roberts hit .256/.300/.442. It was the least total amount of at-bats over the season (319) since he had gotten a niche in Los Angeles. He actually hit better than he had last year. He feels he is a starter, and while he never will be a star, probably is a starter. He never hits for a high average, but has a pretty good on-base percentage, and we all know how his speed is. Theo said that out of respect to Dave Roberts, he would try to trade him to a team that would start him. The Red Sox talked to many teams, including the Astros, who non-tendered pitcher Wade Miller. The Red Sox should definitely try to sign Wade, as he could be a great fit. Curt Schilling agrees, saying that “Wade Miller would be a good sign IMO. In addition to being a serious competitor he knows how to pitch. Given the dynamics of the staff that handles players here this would be a very different situation for him to be in. A lot less pressure and a lot more attention. Look at what the training staff did for Pedro this past season. They got him to the post, along with his hard work for every start. I love the thought of this guy coming here and being able to come back as he can. He can pitch and he can win. Put him in front of this offense and it could be a steal. Bringing guys this good here in this kind of situation seems to me to be a win win given that he’ll most likely sign a deal that’s incentive laden. I think it’s a great move. Considering the staff that’s being assembled in NY this year is gonna be another huge challenge and pitching once again IMO will carry the day when it all comes down to it.”
The Red Sox found a fit with San Diego, who sent OF Jay Payton, IF Ramon Vazquez, P David Pauley, and $2.25 million dollars.
I think Roberts will succeed in a Padres uniform. He’s not a home-run guy, so Petco Park won’t affect him too much in the way of how he plays his game. He will be a game-changer at the top of the order and I expect to see him stealing many bases.

“This is a dream come true,” said Roberts, who has lived in San Diego County since he was 12. “After winning the World Series you don’t think it can get any better, but it has.”
“As far as we’re concerned, (it was) one of the biggest stolen bases in baseball history,” Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. “We went from potentially getting swept to winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years.”
Roberts hadn’t played in 10 days before the stolen base.
“When everyone in the ballpark knows you’re going to steal against Rivera, it’s pretty tough,” he said. “Thank God I was safe. That was a great chapter in my life, but I can’t express how excited I am to put on a Padres uniform.
“I grew up a San Diego Padres fan,” he said. “That’s all I knew when I was younger, watching guys like Tony Gwynn. It didn’t seem like this could ever happen. It’s something I wanted so much my whole life. To be given this opportunity, I’m going to embrace it and do everything I can to be productive and help this team win.”
Boston acquired Roberts from the Dodgers at the July 31 trade deadline last season, and he played 45 games while filling in in the outfield.
“He really wanted to go to a situation where he could play every day,” Epstein said. “He wasn’t really going to play much here, barring injury.”
Roberts had 33 steals in 34 attempts with the Dodgers, compared to Boston’s team total of 40 when the trade was made.
“We felt like one glaring need was a tablesetter, someone who can make things happen at the top of the lineup,” said Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who predicted Roberts will steal 60 bases. “We needed to inject some speed. I’m also excited about his enthusiasm. He’s a guy who’s really a spark. He has tons of energy.” (Associated Press)

Heading to the Red Sox is someone who hit 28 homers in 2003 for the Colorado Rockies. He signed with the San Diego Padres but fell victim to Petco Park, which is a nice place for pitchers. He was benched near the end of the season, amassing only 458 at-bats, getting 600 the year before, and being a super sub for the New York Mets before that. Payton has always hit for a respectable batting average, has a good on-base percentage, and also has good power. His major league totals are a .285/.335/.433 line, which is pretty good. The reason we traded Dave Roberts was because he was a lefty, and we needed a righty outfielder. He will most likely fill in across the outfield and platoon with Trot Nixon, starting against lefties.
Ramon Vazquez is not much of a hitter (.262/.334/.344 in 995 lifetime MLB AB) but he provides steady defense in the infield (think the 2005 version of Pokey Reese and Ricky Gutierrez) and while he’s no Dave Roberts, he’s also no David Ortiz in regards to speed. We also have another potential speedster in Adam Stern, who was picked up from the Braves in the Rule 5 Draft, which allows major league teams to take unprotected minor leaguers from other teams. The caveat is that the person must stay on the 25-man roster all year long or be offered back to the originating team. Lenny DiNardo was our Rule 5 pitcher last year and he did not stay on the roster all year, as he went onto the DL with an injury (most likely a fake injury). He was non-tendered the other day, meaning he is a free agent. However, most non-tenders such as this is to allow the player to sign a minor league contract with the same team and be free from either the Rule 5 restrictions (DiNardo would have had to start the season on the ’05 roster to complete his days requirement) or the 40-man roster restrictions. It mostly is to free up a roster spot.
Adam Stern hit .322/.378/.480 last year for AA-Greenville and while he has minimal power, can hit for a high average and is a speedy outfielder. He had 40 steals (8 caught) in 2002 for A-ball and 27 steals (10 caught) for AA. The 24-year old, if he makes the team, will fill Dave Roberts’ slot.
David Pauley is 21 and pitched in high-A, going 7-12 with a 4.17 ERA in 26 starts (153.1 IP). He has a nice K/9 of 7.5 but has a Walks per 9 Innings of 3.5 and had an off year with a WHIP of 1.40. Last year, he went 7-7 with a 3.29 ERA in mid-A with a 9.0 K/9. He probably profiles to become a reliever.

Pauley’s best pitch is his curveball, which fluctuates from 50-70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, but he sometimes throws it too much. His fastball runs from 87-91 mph with decent movement, and his changeup lacks deception. (Baseball America)

For your information, the 20-80 scouting scale is a ranking of how good the player’s pitch is. So if Pauley’s curveball was ranked a 50 by one scout, that means it’s average. However, another has ranked it a 70, meaning it’s quite good.
The Red Sox are well on their way to sculpting their 2005 Roster and while Dave Roberts will be missed, I have to say, I think this trade was great. We get a utility outfielder hitting from the side of the plate we want with power, who has started. We get a backup infielder and a minor league pitcher that hasn’t exactly stunk up the place, and we get money to cover Jay Payton’s 2005 salary. It was a great trade, and I wish everyone involved in the trade the best of luck.
POSTSCRIPT The Boston Red Sox have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with former Houston Astros pitcher Wade Miller! (One year, $1.25 million with $3 million in incentives.) More in a future column.

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