The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported, this morning, that the farm system added some more depth to their rosters. The Boston Red Sox signed both Bryan LaHair and Felipe Paulino to minor league deals, last night.
“First baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair, who went to Holy Name Central in Worcester, [Massachusetts,] emerged as an All-Star with the Chicago Cubs in 2012, then struggled down the stretch that season. He spent 2013 in Japan before playing in the Indians minor league system in 2014″ (Speier, BostonGlobe.com). The 32-year-old bats left and throws right, with his towering 6’5” frame earning a batting average of .260, a .334 on-base percentage, and slugging power of .430 in three seasons, before crossing the Pacific.
After having a hampering wrist injury in the spring of 2014, the Indians sent LaHair to the minors, where he spent most of his time in Double-A with the Akron Rubber Ducks. LaHair hit .234, with 60 RBIs and 5 home runs in 364 at-bats. His power significantly dropped to slugging .332, but as it started the season at a mere .171, LaHair could be on the mend. Not that there is an emergency for first basemen and outfielders in Boston; however, LaHair can factor in the minors as an experienced veteran to lead the youth as well as become an asset in a possible trade.
Paulino was signed to a minor league deal, after pitching just over 18 innings with the Chicago White Sox, in 2014. The reason was “due to lingering shoulder issues, and that was after he missed all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery” (Rotoworld.com). The 6’3″, 270 lbs of righty-pitching puttered around both major leagues with four teams over six years. Three of those years were with the Houston Astros, two with the Kansas City Royals, with brief stops with the Colorado Rockies and, eventually, Chicago. Paulino earned a career record of 13-34, with a 5.22 ERA, in 65 starts.
To put Paulino’s career into perspective, his 95 mph fastball, which was severely limited after surgery, struck out 373 batters, to a total of 8.3 Ks for every nine innings. Recent Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez has a 10.0 SO9 ratio. Paulino clearly threw heat, giving him the potential talent, but his injury reduced him to letting over 23% of his flyballs becoming home runs for the White Sox (FanGraphs.com). Power is one thing, but when a pitcher cannot harness his control of his pitches, his force just adds fuel to a batter’s hit, which Paulino proved for 23 runs in four games. He will want to regain his form if he wishes to be a part of Boston’s roster, possibly in the bullpen, but will need a long time in the minors to prove that he is worthy of that trust on the mound.
Both men will have something to prove in 2015, such is the life of journeymen. You can be an All-Star one year, and then become an afterthought in the next season. Each player has shown talent and will need to exorcise the injury demons, to prove that they belong on the Red Sox roster, which does not seem likely with Boston’s current depth chart. Or, at least, they need to be worthy in the minors, on the chance that another club would want to bring them into their fold through a trade, like so many other seasons. If not, their playing days in the summer sun could be over sooner than they wished and Boston will have to acquire more assets another way.