11 December 2009
Adrian Beltre offers a solid glove, but Scott Boars will be pushing for a multi-year deal in the $30 million range and though he'll probably hit better than he did in 2009, the injuries and possible steroid use (see the unmatched 48 HRs in 2004) make me wonder if his best years are behind him.
The Sox could simply move Kevin Youkilis to third and re-sign Casey Kotchman. Kotchman would give the Sox two solid defenders at the corners, but I don't see him being more that a .270 BA, 10 HR, 70 RBI guy in 2010.
One other option is to move Victor Martinez to first base, but we'd probably have to find another catcher to split time with Varitek because Mark Wagner is still a work in progress and Max Ramirez might not be ready for 300+ at-bats just yet.
But here's an idea: What about Garrett Atkins?
Atkins is almost guaranteed to be non-tendered from the Colorado Rockies this weekend after a very disappointing 2009 season. He made $7 million in 2009 and the Rockies won't pay that again watching him hit .226 with 9 homers and 48 RBI in 2009.
So why would the Red Sox want him?
1. He'll turn 30 on Dec. 12th. 2. He can play first and third. 3. His .811 career OPS. 4. He has .300 BA, 25 HR, 100 RBI potential.
Now... if you know anything about Atkins, you know that I just plucked the best possible info about him and ignored all the negatives, but there's reason to believe he can get back playing like he did in 2006.
Circling the Bases pulled a comment from Rockie's GM Dan O'Dowd, speculating the Atkins changed his swing in an effort to pad his production numbers:
"The way the game is set up, the arbitration process pays for power and RBIs, for run production. Maybe he felt this greater need to try to hit more home runs, because he was naturally more of a line drive hitter, and tried to lift the ball and do some different things."It worked in 2006 and 2007, but Atkins has clearly lost his way over the past two seasons.
But consider this: Mike Lowell was a .280 BA, 20+ HR, 90 RBI hitter for the Marlins from 2001 to 2004, but after hitting .234 with 8 ding dongs and 58 RBI in 2005, he was traded to the Red Sox.
He was 31 at the time.
In 2006 Lowell didn't hit great in Fenway Park, but he did .284 with 20 dong dongs and a career high 47 doubles. Then in 2007, he found his stroke again and hitting .324 with 21 HRs and 120 RBI thanks to .373 BA at Fenway.
Could Atkins experience a similar resurrection with the Red Sox?
Atkins' line drive rate fell from the mid-20's to 16.4% last year, but his fly ball rate has been locked around 41% since 2006. If anything, it's the increase in ground balls that worries me. Usually an uppercut swing will induce more fly balls, but the jump in grounders make me wonder if he started trying to "chop" at the ball in an effort to get back to hitting line drives. His strikeout rate had him on pace for 70 Ks through 155 games, which which would have been a career low for him, so the eye is still there. Perhaps some time with Kevin Youkilis in the cage could help him get back on track.
Bottom Line: The Red Sox need a third baseman. They also need a back up first baseman. Atkins could be both, especially as a platoon guys against lefties (.790 OPS in '09)... and he could be a steal come Sunday.
What do you guys think?
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