Scott Boras represents Hank Blalock and Hank Blalock has an opt-out clause in his contract. Rather than simply executing the clause, Boras decided to talk about it with the press first. It’s an understandable move since Boras is never in the press, and it also gives us some time to analyze the forthcoming scenario in which the Rays must ultimately choose between Pat Burrell and the aforementioned Blalock.
Burrell has completely lost the ability to hit left-handed pitching. Between 2005 and 2008, Burrell’s lowest wOBA against lefties was a robust .401 in 2008. His wOBA last year was .278, more than double this year’s .132 figure. As far as ISO goes, forget it. He’s yet to record an extra base hit against a southpaw this year, and last year the rate was a career low .050.
Surely a .071 BABIP against lefties is hurting his performance, but at the same time, a .378 BABIP against righties is propping up his .368 wOBA against normal people. He’s just not hitting for power anymore against anyone. Consider that Burrell hit 57 home runs against lefties between 2002 and 2008, yet he’s hit zero since joining the Rays.
Clearly something’s gone wrong with Burrell and there’s a pretty good chance whatever is wrong isn’t going right anytime soon. For all intents and purposes, just call Burrell a sunk cost and cast aside the concerns about money. He’s going to be paid his money no matter what and the Rays are going to be the ones writing the checks. With Willy Aybar entrenching himself as the designated hitter against lefties, this comes down to which of the not-so-killer-and-somewhat-irritating B’s can be counted upon to hit righties moving forward.
The answer isn’t as cut and dry as Boras and Blalock would hope it would be, even after a torrid April in Triple-A. Blalock has a career .362 wOBA against righties (.328/.349/.391 last three seasons) but posted those numbers while having the benefit of hitting in Arlington and in a (mostly) non-designated hitter capacity.
Maybe the solution is to toss aside Burrell and plug in Blalock while the option persists. And hey, if Blalock doesn’t work, maybe try Matt Joyce when he finally returns from an elbow sprain that could limit his throwing abilities. If that doesn’t work, then there’s always Dan Johnson and Ryan Shealy.
Or Andy Sonnanstine.