Nixon to Left, Who in Right?

Manny Ramirez was put on irrevocable waivers two winters ago, there for anyone. There were rumors abound that he was thisclose to being traded to the Mets last year. Yet, Manny find himself wearing the Red Sox jersey this year, but this could be the last year. Third time the charm, perhaps?
I know the subject header is Trot Nixon, but let me deviate to Manny Ramirez for a second. Not including last night’s game, here’s Manny’s latest LHP splits.
AVG .146 OBP .288 SLG .268 OPS .557
Gulp.
Now for the good news.
This could just be a fluke!

Oh my god! Are you kidding me!? Yesssss!
No, I’m not kidding you. Thanks to OttoC from Sons of Sam Horn for the following for 2004 monthly LHP splits:

 AVG   OBP   SLG  Month
.364  .462  .545  April
.379  .514  .931  May
.273  .485  .545  June
.320  .469  .640  July
.324  .439  .618  August
.179  .303  .464  September (no October ABs against LHP, playoff splits not included)
---
.306  .446  .631  Total vs. LHP

While his SLG was under .600 for three months, only one month, September was chock-full of inepitude. And we’ve just seen a continuation of that so far this year. Perhaps Manny will snap out of it shortly. While his prolonged slump against lefties (Sept 04, April 05, and now basically May 05) is worrisome, at least it wasn’t a year-long trend last year. While Manny still could have lost all his effectiveness against lefties, he could just as easily turn the switch on and hit lefties again, so let’s wait and see where Manny is by the All-Star Break.
Back on track, it’s still worrisome for us the decline of Manny’s production. He looked pretty foolish last night against Kyle Davies and … I don’t know, I just find the aura around Manny dissipating. The Mets have Mike Cameron and Cliff Floyd bookending Beltran in the outfield and while both of them are not free agents until after 2006, the Mets would salivate at having Manny. Consider that Mike Cameron has been in so many trade talks he eventually will be dealt, then that opens an outfield spot, but in right. Manny needs to play left. It’s a stretch and I realize is silly to say “so the Mets will just trade Floyd” but actually, they could. They could just trade him (not to us) and put Manny in left and Victor Diaz in right … or Floyd at first-base, for Mientkiewicz will be a free agent.
So! We’ve traded Manny, and we’re so happy to be rid of his contract we only got a couple prospects in return. Yusmiero Petit anyone?
We need a right-fielder, because 1) the market for right-fielders next year is much more tantalizing and 2) we can move Nixon and his leg woes to left field, perhaps adding two solid years to his career. So who’s a free agent? I compiled a quick and dirty list that does not include every OF free agent nor is it holden to just RF’s – we have flexibility to choose LF or RF with Manny gone. We could resign Johnny Damon using the money saved by Manny to man center field.
Reggie Sanders
Larry Walker
Brian Giles
Jose Guillen
Sammy Sosa
Mark Kotsay
Randy Winn
Richard Hildago
Jose Cruz Jr
Jeromy Burnitz
Preston Wilson
Carlos Lee
Out of these, the people I like are Larry Walker, Mark Kotsay, Carlos Lee, and Brian Giles.
Walker may be 38, but he can hit. In addition, he’d only seek a one or two year contract to play, so why not? Tempting, but there’s better out there, considering Walker’s offense has taken a dip this year. Kotsay is a centerfielder and will have plenty of opportunities to find a place to play in center. He probably will (and should) remain in Oakland for the next 4-5 years. As for Lee, he would help lose some of the sting of losing Manny’s offense. Alas, his natural position is LF. We could still sign him, but that means Nixon stays in RF.
That brings us to Brian Giles. Andrew earlier commented thus:

Bring Me The Head Of Brian Giles. Very good defensive RF, and I have a feeling he’d be cheap, and look fantastic hitting at Fenway.
Damon (CF)
Youkilis (3B)
Overbay (1B)
Ortiz (DH)
Giles (RF)
Nixon (LF)
Varitek (C)
Renteria (SS)
Pedroia (2B).
I want.

That’s an extremely enticing affair right there. I love the Pedroia slotted in the nine-spot, and Lyle Overbay would be excellent in the three-spot, with Giles manning the five-spot. Last year, in Giles’ age 33 season and first season in a pitcher’s park, Giles hit .284/.374/.475 and so far this year is hitting .283/.415/.503. His offense is there and considering next year would be his age 35 season, would be very receptive to a two-year deal with an option for a third, I think. As for Giles’ fielding, let’s take a look.
Giles’ FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average) last year was -10, meaning he was 10 runs worse than an average player. This year, he is at 0. Over his career, he is usually in the positive single digits while Nixon is in the negatives.
Fenway Park RF Dimensions:
Center Field: 390 feet
Center/Right-Field Alley: 420 feet
Right Field: 380 feet
Right-Field Line: 302 feet
Petco Park RF Dimensions:
Center Field: 396 feet
Right-Field Alley: 411 feet
Right Field: 382 feet
Right-Field Line: 322 feet
Giles’ FRAR [Fielding Runs Above Replacement. The difference between an average player and a replacement player is determined by the number of plays that position is called on to make. That makes the value at each position variable over time.] last year was 3. Before moving to SD, he was consistently in the double digits. Nixon is usually in the single digits with two spates into double digits – Giles has the edge here.
Giles would have less space to cover, so his FRAR could rise again. Giles could easily play right field for us, but could also play left – he has the most time in left with 645 games, 284 in CF, and 302 in RF. (Hmm… Lee in LF, Giles in CF, Nixon in RF?)
Anyways, that would enable us to move Nixon over into left-field and Giles could keep the seat warm for either a player in our minor league system or a more attractive (read: younger) free agent.
Manny is only going to continue to decline, and it’s time to cut our losses. The Mets have been hot for Manny for a while and might not be able to refuse a big splash, thumbing their nose at the Yankees, in the off-season again. Assuming the Mets do not win a World Series (more than likely they won’t) they could decide that more offense is the key. After this season, the Red Sox need to accelerate their building season.
While we will be weaker for doing so, we won’t necessarily be weaker in a strong division. We have a good division this year, but:
– The Yankees have shown they are human, and next year could possibly be worse, or at least the same so far.
– The Blue Jays are on the rise, but are still going to scuffle this year, next year, and perhaps the year after.
– The Orioles have a lot of promise, but their farm system is virtually barren, so they have to live in the free agent market.
– The Devil Rays … are just in purgatory.
We could weaken ourselves in 2006, and still contend in a weakened division. While the degree of weakening is a discussion for another time, one could trade Manny, resign Damon and Giles and move with Youkilis and Pedroia and really not lose that many wins overall.