As Nomar Hobbles Away, A New Team Runs Up

1997 Gained: Lost:

Not since 1997 have we seen such roster upheaval. But this year? Talk about roster upheaval on July 31st, 2004, which will go down as a very important date in Red Sox history.

July 31, 2004 Gained: Lost:

Not even spanning a full year, the 2004 trade should shake up the roster even more than all the 1997 deals. For good or for bad? Theo Epstein says he believes this will give us a better chance to win a World Series. Note he said “win a World Series,” not “get to a World Series.”
For all my hating on Nomar, I can say with 100% seriousness that I will miss him. Don’t worry, I’m not flip-flopping like a certain presidental candidate we hear about these days. I don’t miss Nomar’s sullen attitude, I don’t miss his GarciaPop-Ups, I don’t miss his first-pitch hacking, I don’t. But I’ll tell you what I miss – already. I miss his face, the familiarity of seeing him in a Boston Red Sox uniform. When is the last time we traded a star of this magnitude? He is spoken of in the same breath as Williams, Yaz, Fisk, Doerr, Pesky. Pesky was traded late in his career, when he wasn’t a star anymore. Fisk left as a free agent. So it seems safe to say that the last time we traded a player of this magnitude was back when Babe Ruth changed into pinstripes. I believe we are improved by this trade, but I think this team is going to have to find it’s identity again. Not on how to win games, but what face will replace Nomar. I always thought that Pedro or Ortiz was Mr. Red Sox but I realize now it was Nomar. Who will step up?
So I bid you adieu, Number 5, and I move on.
So, the trade. I think it was a good trade, personally. I mean, I advocated not getting Mientkiewicz, but we did. The answer is clear – defense at first base. We also acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera from Montreal to fill the spot vacated by Nomar, and then we grabbed Dave Roberts from LA to act as a backup outfielder with Trot Nixon out. Figure in Kevin Millar and Gabe Kapler, and we’ve got a lot of platooning going on. The following table is the AVG, OBP, and SLG of Mientkiewicz, Roberts, Millar, and Kapler versus righties and lefties. I want to get a better idea of who should start when. I am not including Orlando Cabrera in this because his playing time is not an issue.

Player BA v. R OBP v. R SLG v. R BA v. L OBP v. L SLG v. L
Mientkiewicz .257 .350 .372 .226 .321 .344
Roberts .267 .356 .379 .184 .256 .237
Millar .290 .366 .450 .316 .385 .480
Kapler .261 .303 .339 .313 .338 .537

Based on that information, this is what I propose for our little merry-go-round of first base and right field.
vs. RHP
1B – Doug Mientkiewicz/Kevin Millar
RF – Kevin Millar/Dave Roberts
vs. LHP
1B – Kevin Millar
RF – Gabe Kapler
We need to have Dave Roberts become the primary pinch-runner, and righty pinch-hitter, with Gabe being the lefty pinch-hitter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see David McCarty be cut, as his job is basically taken up by other people now. It would be a shame to see McCarty cut, but he should be. But I think Youkilis will be sent down – he needs to get regular playing time. If I was Theo (which, clearly, I am not) I would send Youkilis down and cut McCarty when Pokey Reese returns – if it’s before August 31.
When Trot Nixon comes back, then the field will really be crowded. But I’d rather have it be crowded then be sparse – that is how you win ballgames, by having depth.
Doug Mientkiewicz is signed through 2005. making $2.80 million this year, $3.75 million next year with a $3.75 option for 2006 or a buyout of $0.45 million. This ties up a good amount of money in Millar and Mientkiewicz for next year, so I would expect one of the two to be traded in the winter – most likely Millar. Unless Millar wins us the World Series. Mientkiewicz is going to give us a good glove at first, and is a decent runner. Our infield is going to appreciate the addition of Mientkiewicz.
Another fielder the pitchers will appreciate the addition of is Orlando Cabrera. This year, Nomar Garciaparra had a .957 fielding percentage while Cabrera had a .982 FP to go along with a 4.53 Range Factor and a .835 Zone Rating. Nomar, on the other hand, had a 3.84 RF and a .694 ZR.
Jason Stark wrote an article today on the Biggest Winners and Losers of Trades (we were the 3rd biggest winner), where he quoted an NL executive who said on Orlando Cabrera that,

“I think he’ll be great there. He’s an every-day player who plays every day. He loves to play. He’s the type of guy who wants to stay in the game even if he’s losing, 10-0. He’s a very good player who wasn’t hitting very well. But he’s still a very good player. He plays hard. He hustles. And he’s a very good shortstop. Put him in front of those 34,000 people in Fenway every day, and I bet he’ll be energized by the whole experience. And it won’t hurt that he’s playing for a contract.”

Pokey Reese’s fielding statistics are found here – and check out Orlando Cabrera. We’ve found another Pokey Reese that can hit. He hasn’t hit very well in 2004, but if he can return to his 2003 (I’d even settle for 2001) ways, we’ve got a good shortstop that we can lock up rather cheaply. Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Doug Mientkiewicz … that is fielding at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen. He is making $6 million this year, and should resign for around the same amount. I have a feeling he is going to enjoy the attention and energy of the fans and want to stay.
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:
YEAR -GMS–AB—SB—CS
2002–127—422—45—10
2003–107—388—40—14
2004–68—233—33—1
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.
Let’s add up Mientkiewicz, Cabrera, and Roberts. Total, this year, they are making $12.55 million – a hair over what Nomar cost. Yeah, I think I like these additions.
I believe the clubhouse will be uplifted now that Nomar is no longer around. Roberts is a sunny guy, Cabrera will be glad to get out of Montreal, and Mientkiewicz will be happy he was traded (and he was a popular guy in the Minnesota clubhouse before). Defensively, we should vault into one of the best defensive teams in the game, and I believe we did not sacrifice too much in the offense to be noticeable. We also gain speed what with Dave Roberts, Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera (12 SB, 3 CS), who will not have an Achilles’ heel to be affected by. Dave Roberts should take the place of Gabe Kapler’s role next year on the club and I’m sure we are banking on Cabrera enjoying Boston a lot and enjoying a second-half renaissance and resigning.
Mr. Red Sox may be gone, but the Boston Red Sox look as if they will get on just fine, indeed.