Blalock or Burrell?

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.

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23 Responses to “Blalock or Burrell?”

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  1. Art Deco says:

    Or keep Jaso up when Shoppach comes back, and make him the DH against righties.

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  2. JH says:

    The Rays have been using Willy Aybar against lefties all week. He’s much better against them than Pat Burrell, and doesn’t require a roster move.

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  3. Kimo says:

    Burrell was an unfortunate mistake from day one. The player the Rays should have went after was Bobby Abreu who had played well in the AL East and did not have a significant platoon split deficit which would satisfy the Rays desire for someone to bash lefty pitchers. Also Abreu was/is athletic enough to at least run and steal some bases.

    Moving forward, I say give Blalock a chance and dump Burrell.

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    • Ryan says:

      I think they actually did, but he turned down their offer and went to the Angels. Funny, the contact we offered him- Burrell’s contract- was actually more than what the Angels gave him, but he didn’t want to play DH, he wanted to playing the field, so he turned us down.

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  4. Nate says:

    Haha! Lefties and normal people. My girlfriend would throw something at me for saying it, but it made me laugh.

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  5. Bender says:

    wOBA of 364 and 11.5 BB%. Sonnanstine looks like a really good choice right about now.

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  6. Pat says:


    “For all intensive purposes”


    “For all intents and purposes”

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  7. D-Rock says:

    Look at that amazing drop-off in Blalock’s power since 2004…kinda looks suspicious, eh?

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  8. gfd says:

    Abreu thinks the NL IS THE SENIOR CIRCUIT, AND A PLACE TO GO when you’re about to retire.

    So glad the Phillies were censored by MLB FOR STEALING SIGNS!! THEY’VE BEEN DOING IT FOR A FEW YRS NOW.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Wow, you’re annoying.

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    • don says:

      The word you’re looking for is ‘censure’ though that’s really not true either. They were basically told ‘if you’re doing something, don’t’. If I were defending them I’d bring up Ryan Howard’s pitch recognition.

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  9. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Any idea why Burrell can’t hit lefties?

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    • pat FAN says:

      FAN=For Assignment Now.
      A lot of former sluggers including some of Borras clients have declined in production after all the mild enforcement of PED’s use. Burrell’s problems are only his vision, his hand-sight coordination, his timing and his power.

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  10. Greg says:

    Dan Johnson is mashing here in Durham, currently sporting OPS of 1.024 against righties including 8 dingers in 80 ABs. Blalock is getting on base a little more, (probably aided by a BABIP of 0.412) but slugging less.

    If the Rays are looking for a bat to use against righties, seems to me like Dan Johnson might be a better option than Burrell or Blalock.

    Plus, Dan Johnson’s intro music is LCD Soundsystem. Can’t go wrong with that.

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  11. DL80 says:

    As someone who used to own Johnson in a dynasty league, he’s the epitome of AAAA, just as is Travis Buck (who I also used to own).

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  12. DavidCEisen says:

    Why not call up Jennings (in a week or two) and make the DH a rotation of players? Zobrist can play any position excepting catcher, so take advantage of that.

    They could go with Jennings, Upton, and Crawford in the OF, Zobrist at 1st, and Pena at DH (which would likely be one hell of a defense). Anytime any of those outfielders needs a rest put them at DH and put Zobrist back in the outfield and Pena at first. Longoria needs a day off, Zobrist to 3rd Longoria to DH. Ect.

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  13. Gewinnspiele says:

    i’m so thrilled that i found this blog. that post was so nice. thanks again i added the rss on this site.
    are you going to write similar posts?

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