San Francisco’s KNBR reports that the Red Sox have made a “financially acceptable one-year offer” to Ryan Klesko, recently of the San Francisco Giants.
Klesko, who plays first base and left field (with some minimal time seen in right) would presumably slot in as the replacement for Eric Hinske, and I believe is a great choice for that position.
He will enter his age-37 season in 2008 with a career line of .279/.370/.500 and his average season over his career as a starter saw him bash 26 HR a year with 92 RBI.
This past year as a starter for the Giants in 116 games and 362 AB, he hit .260/.344/.401. His power dip is concerning because he hit for a .390 slugging percentage away from AT&T Park (is that what it’s called these days?) and a .314 slugging percentage after the All-Star Break. Klesko had issues with sore hips, abdominal strains and his chronically sore lower back — a back that may be alleviated to some degree by being a bench player.
Since the Red Sox are interested in a first-baseman who can also play left-field and get on base at a good clip, Ryan Klesko at a financially sensible price makes a lot of sense. As stated before, he would replace Eric Hinske in that role on the bench and would more than likely be a more effective hitter given his long history for being able to hit for contact.
However, this would be Klesko’s first full year as a bench player, and there is no telling the impact that would have on his abilities. Can he stay focused? Can he give quality at-bats without the day-in, day-out grind of doing so? Can he stay mentally sharp? How will he approach his position? Will he be a problem like Jay Payton was?
As far as moves go, signing Ryan Klekso is a cost-effective solution at filling the hole of 1B/LF with someone who can provide offense. It would also put pressure on Brandon Moss to win a job out of spring training as the CF/RF backup or be sent to Triple-A (or… to Minnesota?). In the overall scheme of things, the move is minimal…
But no one needs to know the kind of impact bench players can have on games. Bobby Kielty won a World Series game, Alex Cora alleviated Dustin Pedroia’s struggles at the beginning of the year. Even Eric Hinske is famous around these circles for his stunning dive that will be played on highlight reels over and over again.
Can Ryan Klesko make that kind of an impact?