Looking Long for a Lefty

Nick Cafardo confirms recent rumors that the Red Sox are in the market for a left-handed bench bat, someone who can back up Kevin Youkilis at first (or, indirectly through Youkilis, back up Mike Lowell at third). We’ve noted before that Brad Wilkerson (.234/.319/.467 in 338 2007 at bats) is an interesting but expensive possibility.

A name not in Cafardo’s list but who was bandied in a Sunday BP column: Ryan Doumit (.274/.341/.472 in 252 AB).

And let’s not forget in-house option Brandon Moss (.282/.363/.471 in 493 AAA at bats), who has a whopping five games played at 1B in his entire professional career.

I guess they’re bench players for a reason.

31 comments… add one
  • Tony Clark is alive?
    All kidding aside, he sucked for the Sox under Grady Little and I can’t imagine he’s improved.

    Hudson January 22, 2008, 10:18 pm
  • A great find at Baseball Think Factory:
    “Ever seen a grown man cry because his favourite team lost a playoff game and his favourite player was the goat? And ever see a grown man’s tears turn into icicles?
    Well, sources swear all of the above happened Sunday evening to Eric Hinske, the former Blue Jay who lives near Green Bay and is a lifelong fan of the Packers. Hinske was at the Pack’s 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in Sunday’s NFC final and I’m told that, when the quarterback he worships, Brett Favre, threw an interception that led to the Giants’ game-winning field goal, tears literally streamed down the baseball player’s face. It was so cold that, I’m told, those tears became icy and wound up being picked off his face.
    Hinske might shed tears of joy this week. I hear he’s on the verge of signing a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After stints with the Oakland A’s, the Jays and the Boston Red Sox, Arizona will be Hinske’s first NL team. The Sox intend to replace Hinske with ex-Expo Brad Wilkerson as their main left-handed bat off the bench.”

    Paul SF January 22, 2008, 10:44 pm
  • Ortiz can get off his ass and play some first. He’s had it too good for too long, being in charge of the sunflower seeds.

    Kazz January 23, 2008, 8:38 am
  • “Ever seen a grown man cry because his favourite team lost a playoff game?
    If there is any man here who has not shed tears because of a sports game, raise your hand.
    For me:
    Game 7, 2003 ALCS (sad tears)
    Game 4, 2004 World Series (happy tears)
    December 10, 2000: LaVar Arrington retires Troy Aikman (sad tears)
    Game 6, 2007 ALCS: JD Drew gives a fist-pump after hitting a grand slam in the first inning. Many [happy] man-tears were shed.

    Atheose January 23, 2008, 10:07 am
  • Game 6/7, 1986 WS (The first time I understood what it was like to be crushed as a fan, cried off and on for days)
    Game 7, 2003 ALCS (sad tears)
    Game 7, 2004 ALCS (happy tears)
    Game 4, 2004 WS (happy tears)

    LocklandSF January 23, 2008, 10:19 am
  • I do hope the Sox sign Wilkerson – he sucks, especially against right-handed pitching the last three years (.750 OPS).
    But I’d actually be surprised if they sign him. Moss is decent enough for the same role, and he’d likely be better. Plus, if they want a left-handed 1B, they already have one in Chris Carter. Between, Moss, Lowrie, and Carter the Sox have the makings of a decent, flexible and young bench.
    I bet the Sox have expressed very minor interest in Wilkerson and the stories are his agent blowing that up.

    A YF January 23, 2008, 10:22 am
  • I know what you mean re: Drew’s granny, Atheose. Watching it again, you can see everyone in the crowd getting down as Drew steps into the box, hoping but not believing that he might do something good. And the reaction from the crowd after the ball disappears is happiness made even more giddy by disbelief.
    And rounding first is one small figure who’s had a bad year at the plate and at home. The gesture he makes is short (though in close-up, his face is intense), and somehow it makes one (or at least me) choke up seeing all this pandemonium contrasted with one man’s quick gesture of vindication in the space between all the cheers.

    Devine January 23, 2008, 11:33 am
  • Well said, Devine.

    Atheose January 23, 2008, 11:42 am
  • Back on topic…
    I say we stay in house for this and use the kids if we can, but certainly not overpay for a Wilkerson.
    I guess it’s just hard to get excited for bench players, regardless of how important they actually are over the long haul.

    LocklandSF January 23, 2008, 1:09 pm
  • Game 4 of the 1990 ALCS for me. First memory of watching a Red Sox game…
    The Drew slam is one of my all-time favorite Red Sox moments. I can’t think of a moment in 2004 even that matches it. 2004 was more of an overall achievement. The Papi walkoffs and The Steal were great, but no one was doubting David Ortiz or Dave Roberts. EVERYone, including myself, was hoping Drew would just work a walk. It was a tremendous moment.

    Paul SF January 23, 2008, 2:26 pm
  • Broncos v. Giants
    Broncos v. Niners (ouch)
    Broncos v. Redskins (another ouch)
    Broncos v. Packers
    Some of my man tears, outside of 04, at which time I was much, much too intoxicated to cry for anything. ha.

    Anonymous January 23, 2008, 4:08 pm
  • Damn you Doug Williams. Now I’m thinking about it.
    Oh, I forgot about the day the Broncos traded for Jake Plummer. That day sucked too. A. Lot.

    Anonymous January 23, 2008, 4:09 pm
  • Crap ^both are me.

    Brad. January 23, 2008, 4:09 pm
  • That’s the thing – you have no idea how important a bench could become. Think of it as insurance. That why the Yankee bench was so sad the last few years. It’s where hope went to die.
    For the Sox and Yanks this year looks good, if there’s a injury. The Sox have Lowrie to fill-in at 3B, SS, and 2B and Carter for 1B. Moss is probably the only real weak point if he had to log major time, and in place of Drew or Manny. That’s why I could see them kicking the tires, but nothing more, on Wilkerson. He just ain’t an upgrade on the Mossman (Any one else remember him from the He-man cannon? His pheromones were overwhelmingly nice for a monster).
    Because of that OF situation, I’d say the Yankee bench is a bit (just a bit) better off. An OFer goes down for any length, they have flexibility and depth. Damon could slide into LF or even CF without killing them. Melky could move into RF. Gardner could be called up for CF. Duncan can also play RF in addition to 1B. Betemit can cover anywhere in the IF – his bat making up for his glove. And longer term, I think Molina is a pretty good option – he’d be starting for some teams. Still, the Yanks will probably keep one hope-death player. My money’s on Nick Green.

    A YF January 23, 2008, 7:07 pm
  • And I have to say I’ve never cried because of a baseball game. Movies, yes. Baseball games, no. Jim Abbott’s no-hitter had me very, very close though.

    A YF January 23, 2008, 7:33 pm
  • “That’s the thing – you have no idea how important a bench could become.”
    That’s exactly the reason why Betemit and Duncan should NOT be part of the regular lineup. With a bench of Duncan, Betemit, Molina, etc… This team is that much better. I get sick when I think that this team has spent 200 million dollars and these are the options at 1B. Everything Cash has done I have been on board with. I like the idea of having young kids compete for some pen spots, but I just don’t like the Duncan/Betemit platoon. I’m sorry I still think a veteran like Casey would be a positive addition to this team. He brings more to the table on the whole. Sure Duncan and Betemit have the benefit of “What Could Be” or “Potential” because they are older but that’s really it. Casey is NOT Minky, he has some hitting ability and he can play D. The only reason I think Cash is holding back is the fact that Casey is a type B and you have to ask is one season worth the 1 pick? In my eyes absolutely. He’s a great teammate and a hard nosed player that could help this team.

    John - YF January 23, 2008, 8:41 pm
  • I may be wrong about this but if he’s a Type B, I don’t think the Yanks have to give up a pick. The only thing that happens is that the Tigers get a supplementary first rounder, which is still not a great result given they’re one of the few teams that competes signing-wise with the Yanks in the draft.
    But, John, I gotta say I’m not with you on this Casey thing. He had a very good 2004, and since then he’s been trending downward, with numbers that are actually worse than Betemit’s recent offensive stats. Unless he’s a wizard with the glove, I’m sure I see the point in him taking at bats from a player who is a little better with the bat (and who could be a lot better maybe).

    Nick-YF January 23, 2008, 8:54 pm
  • “I get sick when I think that this team has spent 200 million dollars and these are the options at 1B.”
    I get sick when I think of the alternatives.
    I agree with you to an extent, but of the names cited in the post, really who’s better? Cause it’s not Casey. That’s the thing – he’s actually worse than Minky the last few years. And that’s bad.
    We discussed Nick Johnson, and I’d say they should get him if the price is right. But with Bowden the chances there are very unlikely. Are we missing anyone?
    The other problem with filling first base? Juan Miranda could be ready mid-season. He had a solid first professional year in the US splitting time between A+ and AA and then had a monster session in the AFL. He’ll start in AAA and there’s an outside chance he could make the club out of camp. The only problem there is he’s another LH-bat.
    Honestly, if there was a decent RH-bat available at 1B, I think Cash would have been all over that. There hasn’t been, unless you want Sexson (good glove, bat will probably bounce back some, but very, very pricey).

    A YF January 23, 2008, 9:16 pm
  • Miranda’s first year in the U.S.:
    A+ – .264/.348/.464 with 9 HR and 50 RBI
    AA – .265/.352/.480 with 7 HR and 46 RBI
    AFL – .295/.423/.551 with 5 HR and 17 RBI
    Keep in mind those A+/AA came after two years off because of his defection. Suffice it to say, he could the 1b you seek.
    A recent writeup here –

    A YF January 23, 2008, 9:24 pm
  • “he’s actually worse than Minky the last few years”
    I am not looking for support on this one, I know I am probably alone but look at the facts. Casey’s only season where Minky could possibly be considered better was 2006. Betemit and Duncan would be hard pressed to put up numbers comparable to the numbers put up by Casey. He had a poor 2006, I will admit that but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s done. Plus you add to the equation his leadership, experience and defense and I think it’s a good fit.
    I will agree that NJ is a great option, as we discussed, but it seems a long shot with Bowden as you said.
    A YF I am curious why you think having an abundance of LH is an issue?
    2007 .296/.353/.393
    2006 .272/.336/.388
    2005 .312/.371/.423
    2004 .324/.381/.534
    2007 .277/.349/.440 (That’s just 166 AB’s)
    2006 .283/.359/.411
    2005 .240/.322/.407
    2004 .238/.326/.350

    John - YF January 23, 2008, 9:44 pm
  • I think Duncan is going to surprise a lot of people.

    AndrewYF January 23, 2008, 11:30 pm
  • Casey has been awful, just awful, the last two years. Even 2005 was pretty bad for a 1B. You can call 2007 a small sample from Minky, but he certainly wasn’t worse than Casey – he just had a fluke injury. There’s a reason the Tigers are replacing Casey with Rentaria by moving Guillen to 1B. There’s also a reason those guys named in the post haven’t been signed by any other team, including the Royals.
    “Betemit and Duncan would be hard pressed to put up numbers comparable to the numbers put up by Casey.”
    Based on the last three years from Casey, they need to put up a combined .800 OPS. I think they can easily “hack” that, especially as a platoon. Cashman must agree with me. :) The options are very, very thin. This isn’t the case of him doing nothing, like in years past. It’s a case of him making a good non-decision.
    Somehow I think if Torre was still with the team, you’d have your gut-belly in Casey. After all, Torre’s the one who started the 2006 season with Cairo at 1B. And now, for the first time, we see Cashman dictating the roster to his manager – as it should be. Indeed, Minky is still available and, apart from getting injured, did all he could have been expected to do last year in that role including being the best defensive 1B in the game.
    LH hitters are only a problem when they face left-handed pitching. And last year they didn’t do so well against those – definitely below a .500 record. But I’ve forgotten how to easily look that up. Duncan helps though – dude crushed LHPs. Luckily the Sox aren’t getting Santana, and even better if he goes to the Mutts.
    Here are the team-wide splits from 2007:
    vs RHP as RH: .301 .371 .500
    vs RHP as LH: .287 .365 .466
    vs LHP as RH: .288 .373 .437
    vs LHP as LH: .281 .349 .417
    To continue the theme of this thread, they go from being Todd Helton to Sean Casey against left-handed pitching, especially the LH hitters (Damon, Abreu, Giambi, Cano, and even Melky as a lefty).

    A YF January 24, 2008, 5:00 am
  • The Yanks were 20-19 against lefties in 2007.

    Paul SF January 24, 2008, 9:43 am
  • “Cashman must agree with me. :)”
    LOL. That must be it.
    As for Casey being “awful, just awful, the last two years” you are basing that on power and XBH. First base doesn’t have to be a power position. If you are providing something else (and in this case Casey provides a glove and a respectable OBP) then power is not the single most important stat, especially on this team. I am not passionate about this move, I just don’t like the platoon at all. Time will tell. I give it until June 1st before the shine has worn off Duncan and Betemit as everyday players. (Remember that so we can do a search when I am proved right.)

    John - YF January 24, 2008, 10:27 am
  • From MLB Trade Rumors:
    “The Red Sox offered Wilkerson one year and $2MM plus incentives, and today is the deadline for him to decide. The appeal is that Wilkerson would join a winning organization for the first time; he’d be a backup first baseman and outfielder. It does not seem that Wilkerson is seeking three years and $21MM.”

    John - YF January 24, 2008, 1:37 pm
  • Thanks for the correction on the record against lefties. Duncan must have made a huge difference. They were under .500 for the majority of the season.
    “First base doesn’t have to be a power position.”
    Unless you want the absolute worst 1b in the game. Casey would be that. Heck, I’d rather they sign Minky – better glove and bat. Plus he’s A-Rod’s BFF. No thanks on either though.
    “I give it until June 1st before the shine has worn off Duncan and Betemit as everyday players.”
    Of course, that’s when Miranda could be available, if not before. But something you’re failing to grasp in writing that sentence – neither Betemit nor Duncan will be everyday players unless someone gets hurt. That’s the point of a platoon – they’re both part-time players. And it’s a perfect use of them. Much better than clogging the roster with an old, singles-hitting lefty 1B.
    “(Remember that so we can do a search when I am proved right.)”
    Aren’t we modest? What happens if you’re proved wrong? Are these threads destroyed?

    A YF January 24, 2008, 3:14 pm
  • Did Sean Casey kill your kitten? “Unless you want the absolute worst 1b in the game.” That’s a little extreme. Either way I am not that passionate about it like I said, so I will let it go.
    Call the Duncan/Betemit platoon what you’d like it’s a bad idea regardless.
    I do hope you are right on Miranda. Also rumor has it that NJ could be on the block. I wonder if Cash kicks the tires, I certainly hope so.
    I am modest. I said what I said for this reason: Everyone seems ok with the platoon at 1st, the 3 rookies in the rotation now, but if there is a hiccup what happens then? I just don’t see it being embrassed as whole heartedly in June as it is now.

    John - YF January 24, 2008, 3:42 pm
  • A YF –
    I’m not even going to get into the debate about Sean Casey or Mientkiwicz.
    But the Tigers moving Guillen to 1B has a lot more to do with Guillen himself than it ever had to do with Sean Casey.

    QuoSF January 24, 2008, 4:19 pm
  • The converse: Did Casey save your kitten? I’d like to know which 1B is worse than Casey. After all, he’s without a job at the end of January, while there are many crappy 1B’s with jobs.
    “Call the Duncan/Betemit platoon what you’d like it’s a bad idea regardless.”
    I didn’t say it was a good idea. But it’s better than anything else out there, especially if the alternative is Casey. I think that’s why many of us are okay with the roster is as it is, when the alternatives are Sean Casey and Kyle Lohse. I know I’d rather see what the youngsters can do than trot those utter scrubs out there. They’re not even good enough for the worst teams in baseball.

    A YF January 24, 2008, 4:50 pm
  • Actually he saved my puppy from a burning building.
    You put together some really intelligent arguments, so I am surprised that you make a statement like “I’d like to know which 1B is worse than Casey. After all, he’s without a job at the end of January, while there are many crappy 1B’s with jobs.” You know that there is more to the logistics of baseball then good vs. no good. Different situations dictate different decisions. Just because an individual is out of work doesn’t mean he can’t play or isn’t better then current members of a teams roster. It’s not as cut and dry as you are making it.
    You are right to say there is nothing out there, because the pickings are slim. I just don’t like the Giambi-Duncan-Betemit combo. To be honest, I don’t like platoons at all. Platoon is a nice way of saying you don’t have a guy good enough to play full time so you have to use two. If the rumors are true that Nick Johnson is going to be put on the block Cash should go after him. He is an OBP machine and makes a ton of contact. He is also a solid option with the glove.
    I too want to see what the young kids can do, I have made that clear. My concern is how they are going to juggle innings limitations, a pennant race and a new manager. Should be interesting to say the least.

    John - YF January 24, 2008, 5:58 pm
  • A YF January 25, 2008, 9:21 am

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