Kevin Millar … Again

This year-long discussion with Kevin Millar and Mark Bellhorn has to be one of the most fascinating, because of the interesting parallels (although there are differences) in their seasons, how people react, and how people argue. I only wish fans of other teams were as interested in these discussions about Millar and Bellhorn because the discussions, and arguments of both sides, are very fascinating. Let’s talk a bit about Millar.
Kevin Millar banged two homeruns last night. Is this the game the Red Sox, the fans, I, have been waiting for all year? If he’s scorching hot the rest of the way, won’t we trade the awful April through August (awful is a relative word, though – if he was a second baseman, we’d be worshipping at his feet) for him being hot now?
I thought I’d take a look back at some recent comments about the Kevin Millar topic, as the commenters lately have been doing a fantastic job at promoting discussion about various subjects – so good that even I wonder why they aren’t writing a website themselves.
Nick said: Millar might have a better average than Kapler, but at least Kapler can play the outfield competently. Millar is no better than Manny out there defensively, probably even worse since he couldn’t throw out John Kruk trying to stretch a single into a triple. Do Millar and Damon stand twenty feet away from each other to warm up between innings when they are both in the outfield?
As far as offense, Millar’s average isn’t high enough to make up for it’s hollowness. You can find plenty of players who can hit .275 with no power. In nearly thirty fewer games, Bellhorn has more homeruns and the same amount of doubles as Millar. Plus, as Evan pointed out, Bellhorn can play all the infield positions, and while he might be just average fielding, Millar can’t even play one well. Next time I see him “dive” for a ball I think I will puke. But he’s great in the clubhouse, so I guess that makes it okay.
Geo said: In regards to a Kapler/Millar comparison it’s kind of moot to even debate because Gabe didn’t get here until mid-July after struggling a lot in Japan. That said would you agree Millar, historically and even this season, was/is a better hitter than Kapler? If you look at the numbers you’d have to say yes. My feelings is that on some nights, after looking at pitcher matchups, you’ll find Millar has a much better track record than Kapler, so much so that Gabe’s superiority in defense isn’t enough to make me pick him over Gabe. That’s my opinion; obviously you think otherwise, and that’s cool. What fun would it be if we all thought alike?
As for the Millar/Bellhorn debate I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you saying we should have kept Bellhorn instead of Millar? You did see Mark’s average drop to .216, didn’t you? Who cares how many doubles/HR’s he had relative to Millar’s. The bottom line is he hit close to 60 points less than the league average. That’s not good. As bad as Millar has been slugging his average never dipped that low. After May 1st the lowest his average has ever been is .267. That’s far from .216. I’d also add that you give Millar no credit defensively; while his arm might not be the greatest you have to say he plays at least an average 1B.
[…] In regards to the Olerud sub, give Tito credit. He managed to give John the night off and won the game. Olerud’s a guy who almost retired after last season and has been on the DL this season. You have to keep him healthy until the playoffs where he’ll play the majority of the games.
Bottom line is we have a good chance of having a 2.5 game in going into Septemeber. We’re in pretty good shape. It’s all about the postseason, right?
Nick replies: Yes, I can agree that Millar has been a better hitter than Kapler for his career. Still, I would rather not see him set foot in the outfield again, unless it’s on his way to the Monster to work the scoreboard. As for a season comparison, as you pointed out it is moot for Kapler has been around for long enough.
Regarding Bellhorn and Millar, if the team is willing to see that Bellhorn isn’t getting it done and is able to move on, why can’t they see the same with Millar? My point being, he’s been just as bad this year and should receive the same treatment, especially with two capable players behind him (three if you count Ortiz). If they want him on the team for his clubhouse presence, fire Sveum and make him the third base coach.
Geo shoots back: Like I said Millar never struggled as bad as Bellhorn. Just compare their Junes:
Millar: .377 BA, .574 Slg
Bellhorn: .216 BA, .420 Slg
I know you expect more production out of a 1B but come on, those numbers aren’t close. Millar then hit .292 in July while Bellhorn hit .116 in limited playing time. Are you advocating keeping Bellhorn around just because he’s more versatile defensively? He never played more than 10 games in a season in the OF so he doesn’t really have much value out there and we don’t have use for him at 3B or SS.
[…] I think our pitching in general should be of more concern than Kevin Millar.
Nick makes a great point at the end of his comment: No, I am not advocating keeping Bellhorn because we still have Millar. I think NEITHER should be starting for this team. Of course, Millar is not really helping me out tonight; maybe I really am a Chinese jet pilot. May the winds blow strongly towards the Monster the rest of the year.
I agree the pitching is more of a concern, but we don’t have better replacements for any of the starters right now, while we do have plenty of first basemen who can play at no worse a clip than Millar.
Sam also makes this comment that opened my eyes…
Meantime, am I the only one who doesn’t especially like Olerud? Not so much for Olerud’s sake, mind you (although he’s slow as a bastard, I will say that), but for Petagine’s sake. Every time I see Olerud walking to the plate, I find myself thinking, “There’s another chance for Petagine NOT to prove himself.” And granted Olerud hasn’t been bad for us, and he’s a classy guy, but the potential upside on Petagine is tremendous — yet here the guy is riding pine every day, hardly getting an AB a week. Think back a couple of seasons to 2003, and we had a similar situation with the 1B/3B logjam of Hillenbrand, Mueller, Millar, and Ortiz. Now imagine that Ortiz gets the treatment that Petagine is getting and never gets a real chance to prove himself. Where does that leave us now? Well, for one, we never discover that we’ve got the reincarnation of Ruth/Gehrig in the heart of our lineup, and for two, we don’t win any World Series.
Not that Petagine is any Ortiz. But a guy with a good batting eye and the necessary pop to play a position from which you expect power production? Petagine looks like he could be that. If nothing else, I should think that the monster homerun he hit into the grandstands at Fenway would buy him another serious look or two. Especially when “Doubles-Duty” Millar is getting the bulk of the playing time at 1B and Nonagenarian John Olerud is getting the rest.

Noooo, Sam. Nooooo! Don’t say it! You hate on Olerud? Ach! When John Olerud plays, it means Kevin Millar does not, and Olerud, coupled with his defense and his sweet swing (.319 /.352 /.451 – and that’s including his terrible, terrible 0-21 or something like that slump) he’s been just fine. Olerud has been amazing against lefties (.333/.364/.567) and rather pedestrian against righties (although he does still hit over .300 against them) so if you want to argue that John Olerud only plays first against lefties, I’m fine with that. However, you need to keep Olerud sharp for the postseason. In addition, Francona keeps trying to snap Millar out of his slump. It might have happened tonight, it might have not.
If you want to advocate a Petagine at first for righties, Olerud at first for lefties routine, then yeah, maybe I’m with you … but then again, Kevin Millar just hit two homeruns, so I think we should see if Millar can continue the hot hand today. Petagine is nothing more than a first baseman stuck third on the depth chart, insurance for Millar/Olerud/Ortiz injuries. This is the American League as well, so he can’t pinch hit – and sure can’t in this offense – so he rides pine.
At this point in time, I can’t say I disagree with the move. He’s ridden so much pine, he’s rather rusty now I would say and I can’t quite advocate throwing him in the lineup, especially after last night, on a fulltime basis. If Millar slumps again, then you really have to move on and play Petagine, but Millar showed enough to get several more games. It’s tough what happened to Petagine, but Francona has decided this team is much more valuable if Kevin Millar can get hot, as opposed to benching him, depressing his morale, and throwing all his eggs in one not-definite basket with Petagine.
Hey, take the good with the bad. The Red Sox had many opportunities to send him down, but Petagine has been on the roster all along, which means he’s eligible for the postseason roster and management has felt the team is better with Petagine as an option.
(Psst – Kevin Youkilis, if you had not heard, was called up prior to the game last night so he he would be eligible for the postseason roster. Manny Delcarmen was sent down. Today is now the day we should expect to recall Lenny DiNardo and Kelly Shoppach for sure – unless Shoppach [who got hurt] can’t handle it.)