Sunday, July 10, 2005

Payton's RePlaceMent

Get it? It's a pun! A Google search of "Payton's Place" Red Sox yields 204 hits. (Someday, when Mark Prior is a FA, we'll all be treated to "Prior's Place" puns. You heard it here first.) So it's a new, fresh pun. Seriously though, who'll be our backup OF? Are we sticking with Stern? Everyone seems all excited about getting Gabe Kapler back from Japan. So much so that the pop-culture puns for that are in full force, even though it hasn't even happened yet: a Google search for "Welcome Back Kapler" already has 66 hits. (I'm sure everyone who wrote that struggled to incorporate a double-pun: his name also sounds like the star of WBK, Gabe Kaplan. As far as I can tell no one succeeded.)

So obviously he's one of the Twenty-Five. And I'm told he's really, really hot (no link provided, sorry). But not many people have actually discussed how he's doing. First off, he's being put on waivers because of an injury (from the Japan Times; I haven't seen much elsewhere):
Giants release Kapler
The Yomiuri Giants have released Gabe Kapler and applied to have the former Boston Red Sox outfielder put on waivers, officials of the Central League club said Friday.

Last month, Kapler was taken off the roster and was treated for lower back problems that began in May. He asked the club to terminate his contract citing a failure to fully recover and dim prospects of a return to the first team.

Let's assume it's very minor, and was really an easy ticket back to the states. In that case, it's probably worth looking at his statistics in Japan: 111 AB, .153/.217/.261, 5XBH, 3HR, 9BB, 19K, 2SB. Obviously terrible numbers, though (a) 111 AB isn't that many and (b) he was absolutely miserable in Japan so probably was in a bad place mentally. So then, turning to last year, he had 290 AB, and went .272/.311/.390, with 21 XBH, 6 HR, 15 BB/49K. OPS of .701, which is about Mark Bellhorn's so far this year (Kapler's OBP is worse, though his power, of course, is not). Compare that to Payton's .263/.313/.429 (.742 OPS). So it would seem like a step down offensively. However, assuming Manny/Damon/Nixon stay healthy, Kapler would largely be used to face left-handed pitching. And then his 2004 numbers get much better. In 126 AB, he went .317/.333/.500, for an OPS of .833; 14 of his XBH (and 4 of his HR) were against lefties, even though that was fewer than half his at-bats. Pretty great, with all of these numbers better than Payton's this year (to be fair, Payton's career numbers suggest he's having an off year, perhaps a result of the reduced role, and/or anger management issues). Of course, such numbers also speak to how bad Kapler is against righties.

So the question is simply whether Kapler can put the last few months behind him and hit like it's 2004. If he can, he would be a great, inexpensive pickup. And the Sox would have a legitimate 4th OF who is just happy to be there. Which is apparently more than can be said about some of the players in the Sox clubhouse right now.


  1. Theo apparently said that he already has a trade worked out for Payton but that he was waiting until the break to announce it...

    My guess is that Payton goes back to San Diego (Theo tried to get them to take back Vazquez, so, at the very least, you know they were discussing options)...Maybe Theo is trying to re-acquire Dave Roberts as the speed guy with the team attitude to try to right this clubhouse.

    It is funny how Francona's allowing the players to be themselves worked so well last year. This year, from the outside, it looks like the patients have taken over the asylum.

    At least Francona reamed out Damon for his quotes on Schilling.

    Any other thoughts on who is replacing Payton?

  2. The rumor is a trade with the A's for Dorfdarb. An average bullpen arm. Which is fine by me. Sometime's he's much better than average; he also has injury problems. (Presumably he keeps hurting his fingers as they scrape the pitching mound.)