The Replacement Brigade: Eric Patterson, Angel Sanchez, et al

June 26, 2010 - San Francisco, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02225557 Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia watches the game on his crutches from the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, USA, 26 June 2010. Pedroia injured his foot during Friday nights game against the Giants.
It’s been another harrowing week for the Red Sox as yet another key starter has gone down to injury. With Dustin Pedroia sustaining a broken foot, the second baseman is expected to miss an estimated six weeks – forcing the Sox to scramble for a replacement due to their lack of infield depth. Elaborating on Pedroia’s importance would be superfluous. The former AL MVP is among the three most indispensible Red Sox on the active roster next to Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester – if not the most important of the three. Considering the absence of any semblance of a Major Leaguer middle infielder in Boston’s stead, he is as good as irreplaceable. Still, the length of Pedroia’s injury is nearly as confounding as the injury itself. Assuming he returns along the proposed six-week time line, the Sox are in a purgatory of sorts when it comes to finding a replacement. On the one hand, they could trade for a replacement outside the organization - costing the team prospects in exchange for gaining about a win or two in Pedroia’s absence. On the other, they could tough it out with the inadequate options available.
June 26, 2010 - San Francisco, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02225557 Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia watches the game on his crutches from the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, USA, 26 June 2010. Pedroia injured his foot during Friday nights game against the Giants.

It’s been another harrowing week for the Red Sox as yet another key starter has gone down to injury.

With Dustin Pedroia sustaining a broken foot, the second baseman is expected to miss an estimated six weeks – forcing the Sox to scramble for a replacement due to their lack of infield depth.

Elaborating on Pedroia’s importance would be superfluous. The former AL MVP is among the three most indispensible Red Sox on the active roster next to Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester – if not the most important of the three. Considering the absence of any semblance of a Major Leaguer middle infielder in Boston’s stead, he is as good as irreplaceable.

Still, the length of Pedroia’s injury is nearly as confounding as the injury itself. Assuming he returns along the proposed six-week time line, the Sox are in a purgatory of sorts when it comes to finding a replacement. On the one hand, they could trade for a replacement outside the organization – costing the team prospects in exchange for gaining about a win or two in Pedroia’s absence. On the other, they could tough it out with the inadequate options available.

At the moment, the Sox seem to be chosing the middle ground of the two strategies, which is probably the best way to go – acquire low-cost underachievers and hope to plug the hole until Pedroia gets back.

Faced with starting utility man Bill Hall full-time at second base, the club opted for some insurance – calling up infielder Angel Sanchez from Pawtucket. Later that night, the Sox acquired the underachieving Eric Patterson from the Athletics via trade.

Angel Sanchez

A 26 year-old career minor leaguer who profiles best as a utility man, if Sanchez makes an impact with the club, it is almost certain to come via the glove than with the bat. Like many reserve middle infielders, he has a good defensive reputation, while his bat lags behind. With Saturday’s call up, Sanchez is now in his third Major League stint – including one eight game stretch with the Royals in 2006 as well as an appearance for the Sox earlier this season on May 20.

With just 31 Major League at-bats to his credit (.200/.194/.200), it’s difficult to say how Sanchez’ bat will translate to the bigs. Facing MLB caliber pitchers every day — instead of two out of five at AAA – can fry a hitter’s bat. However, his AAA track record does suggest some ability with the stick. While he offers very little pop (7 career Triple-A HRs in 803 ABs), he has shown good contact skills (14.6 K percentage; Triple-A), and the ability to drive the ball when he puts it in play (.334 Triple-A BABIP).

The early returns on 2010 are no different, as he has posted a .274/.348/.327 line with no homers and 30 strikeouts in 223 at-bats.

In the end, the bottom line is clear with Sanchez: don’t expect any miracles and hope the Sox aren’t forced to rely upon him on a daily basis.

Eric Patterson

While he is far from a reliable option, the acquisition of Eric Patterson is a positive in that the second baseman has a legitimate – albeit somewhat small – chance of providing reasonable production over the course of the next six weeks.

On the plus side, Patterson has about as good Triple-A credentials as one can hope for from a recently DFA’d middle infield bat. Over parts of four seasons at the minor’s highest level, Patterson has posted a .309/.369/.487 line – including a .307/.376/.494 share with 12 HRs over 466 at-bats in 2009. Having shown adequate pop (Career, AAA: 1 HR per 35.82 ABs), the ability to make hard contact (Career AAA: .356 BABIP), and decent strike zone judgment (Career AAA: 18.2 K percentage; 8.68 BB percentage), there is certainly enough talent present for the possibility of a breakout from Patterson.

But he has his drawbacks. For one, he has played very poorly thus far in 2010. Posting a lackluster .204/.255/.408 line in 103 at-bats this year, he also comes with a .220/.301/.340 line in a career spanning 378 plate appearances. However, his 2009 campaign does give some reason for hope, as he posted a .287/.373/.394 line in 94 at-bats. While his production was certainly bolstered by a .371 BABIP, this inflated balls in play average can be considered a positive as it suggests that Patterson can make hard, consistent contact against MLB pitching over an extended period. Though he can’t be expected to duplicate the .371 BABIP again, it gives reason to hope that Patterson can avoid falling into the low-BABIP trap that has plagued him this season.

On top of questions surrounding his bat, many scouts have raised concerns as to his ability to adequately defend at the keystone. UZR agrees, rating Patterson’s defense at -25.8 runs per 150 games – though this can be taken with a grain of salt as the infielder has registered just 32 games at second in his career.

In the end, though there is a good chance Patterson is nothing but a dud, the team’s needs and his latent upside make him a nice acquisition.

Fabian Williamson

The Athletics’ bounty in return for Patterson, Williamson is a minor prospect that the Red Sox are unlikely to miss. Possessing a high-80s fastball, good curve, and changeup, the left-hander has excelled at every stop until 2010 – his walk rate climbing and strikeout rate dropping upon promotion to Hi-A Salem.

With below-average velocity and inconsistent command, Williamson is very much a work in progress. If he can find a way to add a few MPH to his fastball – which some scouts think is a possibility – he could develop three average or better pitches. Those are big ifs, however, and Williamson is a fair price to pay for Patterson.

Moving forward, expect the Sox to continue to pursue small acquisitions to plug the hole until Pedroia returns. Cheap, expendable infielders such as Toronto’s Nick Green or Kansas City’s Chris Getz would make sense for the team as neither player would command a significant price tag. Were the Angels not facing similar problems in the middle infield, former PawSox infielder Kevin Frandsen would have been another fitting target.

Buchholz’ Knee, Martinez’ Thumb

As if the club’s injury situation couldn’t get any worse, the Sox sustained two more in the past two days – starting pitcher Clay Buchholz  and catcher Victor Martinez.

On the bright side, Buchholz’ injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Hyperextending his knee while running the bases during Saturday’s game, there is still a possibility that Clay could make his next start. There is also talk that the rotation may be shuffled in the upcoming days to afford him more rest and it appears the Sox may have dodged a bullet here.

Martinez’ injury is a bit more complicated, however. Though the moment of injury could not be pinpointed in yesterday’s game, the catcher was pulled in the bottom of the fourth with a fractured thumb.

Early reports indicate that Martinez will be day-to-day rather than placed on the disabled list. The Red Sox are hoping that the catcher can manage the pain while the fracture heals.

But this is a curious occurrence. In the case of a fractured thumb, it would seem as if the logical move would be to immediately DL Martinez. Even if he can play through the pain, thumb injuries are notorious for affecting bat control and power – which could threaten to drag down his production.

However, the Sox may be feeling pressured to keep Martinez’ bat in the lineup amidst the team’s mounting injuries – especially in light of Pedroia’s foot fracture.

Categories: Angel Sanchez Clay Buchholz Dustin Pedroia Fabian Williamson Victor Martinez

12 Responses to “The Replacement Brigade: Eric Patterson, Angel Sanchez, et al” Subscribe

  1. Aaron June 28, 2010 at 9:43 AM #

    Now's the time to try to work something out for Iannetta or, better yet, Napoli. I don't know what it would take to get those guys but they seem to be undervalued by their respective teams. I'm not sure why as Napoli in particular has put up offensive numbers comparable to if not better than those produced by V-Mart. Maybe it's a pipe dream but if either backstop is obtainable we can work out the roster issues for the rest of the year and then part ways with Victor.

  2. Fireball Fred June 28, 2010 at 2:14 PM #

    IF – The Sox aren't replacing Pedroia, they're replacing Hall, so the standard isn't all that high. The best hope is that Hall will play over his head, as Nick Green did early last year — and of course he has hit well in the past.

    C – Napoli's offensive numbers don't really measure up to Martinez's if you look at the splits, and of course he can't actually play any position. I'd prefer a good defensive catcher who hasn't hit well.

    • Aaron June 28, 2010 at 10:11 PM #

      V-Mart against righties, wOBA .359, against lefties .364. Napoli against righties, wOBA .347, against lefties .397. Yeah, he has a big split but he's above average against both sides and his worst split is 12 points lower than Victor's, his best is 33 points better. Obviously it's not that simple as there are more righties than lefties but that's why it makes sense to look at career numbers. Victor – .360, Napoli – .363. Splits are also less important for catchers because they sit more often than other players and while you can't avoid all righties you can make sure that he avoids one every week.

      As far as defense goes who really knows with catchers but it's not like Victor has been lauded for his glove throughout his career. I guess I just can't really figure out why a guy like V-Mart has such a better reputation than Napoli. Just because Mike Scioscia doesn't like him?

      • Doctorogres June 29, 2010 at 10:50 AM #

        I don't see the logic in picking up a catcher. Victor's on the 15-day DL. There are much bigger gaps to plug, a.k.a. the bullpen. Between that and a possible bat in OF it just doesn't seem like we'd have any chips to spare to make this kind of move. Defense at that position is still a concern, but it seems to have become less of a problem compared to the leads the bullpen has blown.

        • Aaron June 29, 2010 at 11:06 AM #

          Yeah, I'm not pushing for Iannetta or Napoli just because of the current situation but for the mid term future. They just both seem to be undervalued by their own teams and therefore a buying opportunity.

  3. Mike_Silver June 28, 2010 at 4:19 PM #

    I'd say that's a fair analysis of Getz.

    However, I think the additional cost to acquire him would be offset by his superior talent and low ML service time. Unlike the others, he could have a future with the team as a utility infielder or could be off-season trade bait for a club in search of a young second baseman – much in the same vein of a Casey Kotchman.

    I've never been a fan of half-year rentals – much less six week ones – but Getz could have value beyond 2010 for Boston, which would validate his higher price tag.

    • radiohix June 28, 2010 at 7:46 PM #

      Following your logic: I'll be more interested in Jose Lopez who plays (according to UZR) average defense at 2nd base and solid one at 3rd: His numbers will improve dramatically away from Safeco to Fenway.
      Plus he's cheap and fairly young.

      • radiohix June 28, 2010 at 7:48 PM #

        His numbers don't look good right now but a positive regression is due (.758 OPS since May 28th)

  4. chris June 29, 2010 at 12:08 AM #

    montero(az) and keppinger might work ou in deals for the bosox

  5. Andy Whitaker June 29, 2010 at 12:22 AM #

    Re: Sanchez's batting numbers: .200/ .194/ .200, I'm guessing that's AVG/OBP/SLG, correct? How is it possible to have a lower OBP than AVG?

    • Mike_Silver June 29, 2010 at 12:54 AM #

      He had a sacrifice fly in '06 while with Kansas City, which doesn't bring down the average but counts against the OBP.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mike and Jeremy Like Sports » Woe Is Me - June 28, 2010

    [...] is expected to be sidelined at least a month. Pedroia was immediantly placed on the 15-day DL and will be replaced by either Angel Sanchez from Pawtucket,newly acquired Eric Patterson from Oakland, or Jed Lowrie [...]