Who Should We Get?

There have been names flying around Red Sox Nation recently. We know there probably will be a trade, but we have no idea who. Before Trot Nixon went down with a possibly season-ending (and dare I say, possibly career-ending [Hi, Cam Neely!]) injury, the consensus was that we needed a pitcher. But now, the consensus is that we need an outfielder, or a first baseman.
The main name being thrown around is Doug Mientkiewicz (statistics).
Mientkiewicz has a career line of a .274 Batting Average (Hits/At-Bats), .366 On-Base Percentage [(Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitches)/(At-Bats + Walks + Hit By Pitches + Sacrifice Flies)], a .408 Slugging Percentage (Total Bases/At-Bats) and an On-base Plus Slugging (Production = OBP + SLG) of .774, giving him a line of .274/.366/.408/.744.
For the unitiated, an at-bat involves anything except a walk, hit-by-pitch, sacrifice flies, stolen bases, interference/obstruction, or if a runner is caught stealing. Errors are part of at-bats, so you do not ‘get on-base’ even though you technically do, because reaching on an error is equivalent to being out. If you hit a grounder to short to start the game and he bobbles it, you are 0-1 (.000 batting average), and also have a .000 OBP. Walks do not count in at-bats, meaning you are 0-0 with a 1.000 OBP if you walk to start the game.
To compare Mientiekwicz‘s career line with other players, let’s check out Nomar Garciaparra and Doug Mirabelli‘s career lines.

Mientkiewicz .274 .366 .408 .744
Nomar .323 .370 .553 .970
Mirabelli .239 .326 .425 .751

So basically, Mientkiewicz is is a better hitter with a better eye overall than Mirabelli, but has the same amount of power (and actually less at that). He seems like a good first-baseman to plug into a first-base hole – but only temporarily. You need more power out from first base, and his 2004 offensive line is not going to cut it in Boston : .238/.334/.356/.690.
A comparison is Gabe Kapler: .271/.309/.407/.715 (whose career line rests at .272/.333/.428/.761 – similar to Mienkiewicz’s career line except for the OBP). While OBP is very important, I also value Batting Average and Slugging Percentage. To me, it looks like Gabe Kapler is the clear-cut choice to start over Mientkiewicz (in 2004, not career).
Mientkiewicz is a better player over his career than Kapler, but the focus is on 2004, not beyond. Therefore, I give Kapler the nod offensively over Mientkiewicz. Also please factor in the following:
Gabe Kapler has played 445 innings in the outfield this year, posting a fielding percentage of .982 and a range factor of 2.16. Doug Mientkiewicz has played 659.2 innings at first base, posting a .994 fielding percentage and a 9.40 range factor.
Let’s introduce a third person into the mix: Kevin Millar. He is hitting at a .296/.372/.460/.831 clip, all better than last years except for the slugging percentage (which, if you’ve been around these last couple of weeks, you know is climbing like Mt. Everest’s altitude).
Millar has 395.2 innings in the outfield, with a .978 fielding percentage and 1.98 range factor. In 291 innings at first, he has a .990 fielding percentage and a 9.12 RF.
In summation:

Player BA OBP SLG OPS FP (1B) FP (OF) RF (1B) RF(OF)
Mientkiewicz .238 .334 .356 .690 .994   9.40  
Millar .296 .372 .460 .831 .990 .978 9.12 1.98
Kapler .271 .309 .407 .715 .982 2.16

To me, Kevin Millar and Gabe Kapler make a lot of sense to me than Doug Mientkiewicz/Kevin Millar and Kevin Millar/Gabe Kapler. First off, it eliminates any crazy platooning. Second off, it gives the Red Sox a better chance to win because Millar has been ripping the ball these days and the Red Sox are 23-13 when Gabe Kapler starts. Millar is the first baseman, Kapler is the right fielder, period.
Kevin Millar is also a leader of the clubhouse, and Gabe Kapler is quickly becoming one of the favorites of the fans. Please visit this article, Sox have confidence in Kapler, written by Ian Browne. A couple of excerpts:

If you want someone who plays at accelerator-to-the-floor intensity at all times, Kapler is your man. Looking for someone who brings a positive outlook to the park every day no matter how his personal success is at that time? Kapler is there, ready to get his uniform dirty with a head-first dive on the bases or a sliding catch in any of the three outfield positions he might be playing that day.

In 37 at-bats in June, Kapler hit .351. He’s kept it up in July, hitting .302 with three homers and seven RBIs. He has been called on almost every night thus far in the second half.

“He’s definitely one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever played with,” said Millar. “He’s a great friend, he’s a great teammate and he’s probably the most underrated player on the team. I think if you asked me who the most underrated player on the team was, I’d say Gabe Kapler.”

According to the article, Gabe Kapler is also his own harsh critic. Even though he had a game-winning hit on April 19th (off Tom Gordon of the Yankees), he was more focused on the fact that he forgot how many outs there were earlier in the game. He was also furious for not being able to drop down a sacrifice bunt last night in Baltimore to advance Bill Mueller.
“Was that a matter of inches? I suppose it could be viewed a matter of inches, but more importantly, I had a job to do and that was to get the runner from second base to third base and I didn’t do it and that’s my responsibility. I pride myself taking care of that responsibility and I’m very disappointed in myself for not getting it done in that situation.”
Statistically and personality-wise, I would take Kevin Millar and Gabe Kapler over Doug Mientkiewicz/Kevin Millar and Kevin Millar/Gabe Kapler any day.
So who DO we need? I’d say we need a better starting pitcher. I would go after Kris Benson, but we lack what the Pirates want. Plus, the rumor right now is that Kris Benson was just traded to the New York Mets for Ty Wigginton, Matt Peterson, and Lastings Milledge. So he’s out. Who else? Maybe the point will become moot if Derek Lowe is on, but here’s the thing – don’t we always say “this is the one” when Derek Lowe has a good start? We need to stop saying it and start seeing it. So why not deal Derek Lowe to Baltimore, engineer a three-way trade to get Victor Zambrano (statistics) to Boston?
“Victor Zambrano!?” you yell. Yes, perhaps he has a high walk rate (perhaps?), but facts are facts: Zambrano strikes out a lot of players, has a 4.47 ERA (1.49 Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched and a .241 Opponent Batting Average), compared to Lowe’s 5.56 ERA (1.71 WHIP, .306 BAA). Not a ton better, but BETTER. A whole run better. Zambrano also comes cheap – $0.33 million being paid to him this year, with him being arbitration eligible. Derek Lowe is a free agent and rejected 27 million over three years in spring training. Baltimore has eyes for Lowe, so trade him there and give us Zambrano. Who could be traded to Tampa Bay? Prospects. If that’s not enough, we could get Philadelphia involved in the talks to give Philadelphia a RP from either Baltimore or Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia has enough prospects to fill in the blanks. So there you have it, a four-team trade. Is that asking too much? Probably, but it wouldn’t be too hard to get Victor Zambrano, methinks.
And he’s an improvement over Derek Lowe.
So there you have it. Get Zambrano, not Mientkiewicz. Especially so I don’t have to keep messing up good old Doug’s last name.

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