Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.

Posted by Mike on Monday, March 22, 2004


Trot Nixon is hurt. More specifically, he has some sort of herniated disk problem in his back that will keep him off the field until May. I think I speak for all Red Sox fans when I say, "Great news." Heading into the season with an injured Nixon and Byung-Hyun Kim does seem far better than starting the year with Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez on the DL but nonetheless injuries are never appreciated. We can only hope that the get their fair share of injuries before all is said and done.

The loss of Trot to the lineup could be discussed for a few more paragraphs because his production will be sorely missed. Instead I'm shifting to a discussion about the Red Sox's options in right field while Trot is recovering (and a semi-startling revelation). The Red Sox don't have a great deal of outfield depth at the present time. Fortunately, if the need becomes dire enough it will be easier to find a replacement OF than it would be to find another starter or middle infielder of quality. There are still a number of valid options that the Red Sox have in house; Ellis Burks has not played the outfield regularly since the 2001 season and that leaves Kevin Millar and Gabe Kapler as the two obvious options.

Kevin Millar

Sometimes you just can't believe what you're looking at and at the same time you also can't believe that you had never seen it before. Millars numbers really scare me. He isn't just getting worse, he's getting a lot worse. His AVG, OBP, and SLG have each dropped over the last three seasons which are responsible for his OPS dropping about 55 points each of those three years. What makes this interesting is the belief among a number of baseball analysts, such as Rob Neyer, that Millar will actually improve in 2004. I think Millar could have a better year in 2004 than this past season but I wouldn't count on it to be dramatically better.

His numbers even in their declining state remain good. As an emergency outfielder/DH/1B he's better than who a number of teams will be sending out on a nightly basis. He couldn't replace Trot's bat in the lineup but he does have the ability to mute the effect of Trot's absense.

Gabe Kapler

Well, Kapler is much worse at the plate than is Millar. In fact he's so much of a downgrade that from an offensive perspective Millar wins easily. Unfortunately I don't know enough about Range Factor or those other newer defensive statistics to really comment on the differences between Millar's and Kapler's fielding ability (maybe one of the other TB writers would care to address this?). I do know that Millar is one of the slowest players I've ever seen and Kapler has average speed. Kapler actually seems to move relatively quickly once he gets up to speed but he is a slow starter. This is probably why for a quick runner he does not steal many bases, it just takes him too long to reach full speed. In Fenway's expansive right field speed is always an important attribute. Millar has none and Kapler has some.

There is another option. At home Manny could play right field and Millar could play left field. This is contigent upon Manny actually being a better fielder than Millar (he actually might be). Manny was originally a right fielder and moved to left field when he came to the Red Sox because it was felt that his weak fielding would be less apparently because of the Green Monster effect. If Millar is a weaker fielder than Manny then it would make sense to move Manny to right and put Millar in left while Trot is hurt.

Mets Fans Unite!

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