With Shane Victorino set to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday, the Boston Red Sox outfield is due for a shakeup. The glut of outfielders includes Daniel Nava,Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp. While Sizemore looks settled in center field, the rest is up for debate. This is the fourth in a series of articles.
Position: Corner outfield (predominantly left field) and first base.
- Offensive threat – hit for an explosive .296/.362/.523 slash line in 2013. Big left-handed bat off the bench.
- Versatile – as mentioned, he plays more than one position. This helps John Farrell elicit the maximum potency out of his lineup.
- Lethargic speed – his speed, or lack thereof, causes him to be a liability on the base paths and in the field.
- Strikeout machine – he punched out 27.6% of the time. The MLB average is 19.9%.
Contract: Set to make $1.4 million in 2014 and arbitration eligible in 2015 and 2016.
Minor League Option: No.
The Case Against:
The Seattle Mariners aspired for Carp to be an imposing force in the middle of their lineup for years. He played parts of four seasons out west, but churned a pedestrian .255/.327/.413 clip. Factoring in his defensive and base running skill deficiency and mediocre offense, Seattle shipped the left-handed hitter to Boston for a player to be named later. He was not guaranteed a roster spot out of the gate, battling with Lyle Overbay in spring for the final spot. He ultimately won; Carp was a Boston Red Sox and Overbay was released and poetically became the first basemen for the Evil Empire.
Expectations were not very high for the Red Sox or the 25th-man, Mike Carp. The 2013 season commenced and culminated with the Red Sox hoisting the Commissioner’s trophy over their shoulders on a brisk October night, and Mike Carp excelled on the offensive side of the ball.
The impactful .296/.362/.523 slash, while unanticipated, can be explained by an abnormal and unsustainable .385 BABIP (batting average on balls in play). He was the benefactor of “luck” and that BABIP will probably regress towards an average .300 and along with it, his offensive performance.
Now you are left with mediocrity on offense and abysmal defense and base running. The wise thing to do would be to shop him while he still has value. The Red Sox have a surplus in the outfield with Victorino’s reemergence and an immense instability with regard to infield depth.
Find a team who lacks outfield and/or first base depth and has infield depth and make a deal happen. This is easier said than done, and a deal sweetener may be required to satisfy both parties, but it will be worthwhile seeing the struggles Boston has endured with Will Middlebrooks sidelined.
It will be imperative if Boston strives to repeat their success in 2013 because injuries are bound to occur over the course of the season to every facet of the team. Timely hitting and bench potency has been their main complication in the early going. Both were very much present in 2013 and need to be this season.