Yesterday the Sox made two moves to add some depth to the team, acquiring 1B Carlos Pena in a free-agent signing, and pulling off another waiver-wire deal for Eric Hinske. The Pena signing is interesting in a "why not" sort of way; it was just two years ago that the guy hit 27 HRs in 486 at-bats (while also striking out more than a quarter of the time) and his glovework at first is well-reputed. In light of the premature demise of Choi's career, this made some sense. Pena will report to Pawtucket.
Hinske will have an immediate impact. He can fill in at 1B, 3B and the OF, and with Mike Lowell determined to end his season by hitting balls off himself, Hinske can really help. His defense cannot sniff Lowell's defense's jock, but he is serviceable, and Mikey needs some rest. It may be that Hinske plays first and Shiny Kevin Youkilis moves back to third; who knows. Either way, Hinske's versatility will serve to give some guys a few much-needed rest days.
There is another added bonus to the Hinske signing also (two, depending on how you look at it). Hinske over the course of the past two seasons has only performing exceptionally well against two teams: Boston and the Yankees.
2006 vs. Sox: AVG .391| OBP .417| SLG .565| OPS .982
2006 vs. Yanks: AVG .368| OBP .429| SLG .737| OPS 1.165
2005 vs Sox: AVG .393| OBP .439| SLG .672| OPS 1.112
2005 vs. Yanks: AVG .314| OBP .356| SLG .510| OPS .866
Actually in 2005 he also killed KC, but I can't really count that as "performing exceptionally". The short story here is we have added a Yankee-killer to our team while simultaneously subtracting a Sox-killer from a division rival. Of course, these things sometimes have a way of not holding up over time, so right now the best way to view this is as entertainment, with a side of hope. That being said, it's nice that the deal was made right before the big Sox-Yanks series.
OBP Machines On The farm
There are currently four players in the Red Sox minor league organization with OBPs over .400. Granted, none of them is above A-Ball, but in some ways that is also encouraging.
Topping the list is Aaron Bates, who appears to be bored by the NYPL, with an OBP of .436, thanks in large part to a BA of .360. He only has 100 ABs under his belt, but he is eating up rookie-ball pitching for the Lowell Spinners.
Zach Daeges ist he true steel, with an OBP of .423 in 166 ABS, and a nearly 1:1 K:BB ratio. Daeges has nearly twice as many RBIs as the next closest player with 30 (to Still's 17), and really appears to have an advanced approach at the plate. Hard not to like this kid.
At Lowell, Zak Farkes also has an OBP above .400 at .409, but given his high-ish K rate (above 20%) and low-ish BB rate (around 8%) I don't see this continuing. He's hitting .329 right now. Still, you have to hope Farkes progresses enough to reach the majors just to give us the possibility of a Foulke-Farkes matchup during an ESPN telecast. Joe Morgan would crap himself.
Not surprisingly Jeff Natale is the only player with an OBP above .400 that isn't in rookie ball. His 1-1 with 3 BBs performance yesterday pushed him up to .406. His average and slugging are still depressed, at .256 and .333 respectively, but strike zone command is certainly not the issue. The Italian God of Walks must be bemusing Billy Beane right about now. Sadly, his defense is still an issue as he has 10 errors in just 68 games (although that is better than Renteria).
It occurs to me that if I still lived back east, I'd head to Lowell for a game while the guys we drafted this year are playing there. There will be some legitimate talent there the next couple of years (and hopefully beyond, but you know), and it's not that far from NH if you needed beer on a Sunday anyway. Why not?