First of all, I would like to thank the Milwaukee Brewers organization for footing the tab on Bill Hall and most of his $8.5 million dollar salary. It’s nice every time Hall blasts a 400-foot shot over the Green Monster that I’m able to think, “Hey, that home run was almost free.”
In January 2010, there was a MLB deal that amounted to a three-team interaction. The Red Sox acquired Hall from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Casey Kotchman. Hall had just been traded to Seattle in late 2008 and Milwaukee was still on the hook for the contract. Milwaukee had sent Hall to Seattle with a wheelbarrow full of hundred-dollar bills, just to get rid of him.
Since Seattle was dealing Hall to Boston, the Brewers were still involved paying about $7 million of Hall’s salary in 2010. The net result was a $1.5 million dollar investment for the Red Sox.
Sure, I’m quick to poke fun at the Brewers — but we all know that the Red Sox have paid salaries of players that were no longer in Boston. This includes the worst Red Sox of the last 10 years, Julio Lugo. The Red Sox are paying Lugo over $9 million this year while he is stinking up the city of Baltimore. Sorry, Maryland.
So this Hall-Kotchman trade was a pretty good deal for Boston. Easy too, considering that Kotchman looked like he should be a home run hitter, but instead hit everything on the ground like he was Coco Crisp and ran about as fast as Scott Hatteberg.
Yeah, he was nice defensively, but who really cared about Kotchman? Seriously. Try to name anything he did other than play “solid defense.” Hall looks like he should strike out in every at bat, but he hits home runs like a cleanup hitter and he also acts like one.
Tell me you don’t love to look at that softball-style batting stance he has. His front leg is wide open and you know he is ready to absolutely crush whatever they throw him. Why anyone gives him a fastball is beyond me. The other night Scott Kazmir served one up and the second it left his hand you knew it was a meatball. Hall buried that pitch from Kazmir into the rear window of some car from Rhode Island parked up the deck of the garage.
It’s no secret that Hall likes to go down by way of the ‘K’. He’s a 70% contact hitter, but he is packed with power and that has produced 16 HRs in a limited role. Hall is putting together a home run once every 16.5 ABs. Since the All-Star Break he has put up a .580 slugging percentage and cranked nine home runs in just 88 ABs. Not bad for a guy someone else is paying for.
A lot of sports fans in New England discovered Bill Hall when he was the out-of-nowhere second baseman that helped many fantasy teams win their league in 2006. He was a sudden stud, smashing 35 home runs and looked to be a future middle-infield superstar.
Unfortunately, following the 2006 breakout season, Hall signed a monster four-year contract and everything seemed to change – especially his position. In 2007, the Brewers made Hall their starting centerfielder and he immediately stopped hitting and proceeded to become a butcher in the outfield, committing a league-leading nine errors and achieving the worst fielding percentage in baseball. Later Hall was moved back to third base to accommodate a young Ryan Braun. Hall also had to fill in at shortstop when JJ Hardy went down with an injury. It was musical chairs and Hall was a different player after the world changed on him.
When Hall was moved to third base, the Brewers started platooning him with Russell Branyan because the now-struggling star could not hit right-handed pitching consistently and the sudden lack of at-bats only made the situation in Milwaukee worse. The cheesehead fans started booing him, he lost confidence, became frustrated and requested a trade out of Wisconsin.
Eventually he was sent to Triple-A, continued to struggle and was designated for assignment. As mentioned earlier, Hall was dealt to Seattle with lots of money in exchange for some guy nobody knew or cared about. Milwaukee just wanted to be done with the ‘Bill Hall Era’.
Today Hall is in Boston and seems to love playing here. It’s a good fit because Red Sox fans seem to love him too. I guess when you light up the sky at Fenway Park, fill-in admirably for Dustin Pedroia and help even-out the terrible Lugo contract, Red Sox fans will like you a lot more than fans in Milwaukee who had much higher expectations.
Back in 2006, when he was breakout star, racking up tons of points in fantasy baseball, I remember saying out loud in disgust, “C’mon…Bill Hall? That guy sucks.”
“He’s pretty good, dude” my buddy Biggie said at the time.
Of course Biggie owned Hall and probably paid a premium for him the next year at the draft, but he was right. Hall was pretty good and as far as 2010 is concerned, he’s even better since someone else is paying him.
Hall is due about $10 million next year but there is a $500k buyout on his contract, so the Red Sox will certainly purchase their way out of that contract. It’s possible that Boston brings Hall back in 2011, but not at $10 million – unless Milwaukee wants to pay him again.
Who knows what is going to happen the rest of the season with this team? The Red Sox don’t look like a true contender for postseason baseball and there are a lot of players and circumstances that can be blamed for that. But Hall has been a great surprise and a welcomed addition to a strange and unfortunate year. He played all over the field again and even chipped in an inning of relief work in late May, retiring all three batters in order.
All in all, Hall has been worth 12 runs above a replacement player and 1.2 wins, amounting to a $5 million dollar player. He is a bottom-of-the-order power-source with passable defense. He’ll finish the season with more than 20 home runs and a sparkling 0.00 ERA. He is a surprise story that is fun to think about since he has made a sizeable contribution to the bottom line in 2010.
Friday, Pedroia was placed on the list of the disabled again; giving Hall and his ASA-approved batting stance a chance at consistent at-bats.
Plus, we’ll get some more “free” home runs.