LaRoche To Boston

Let the buying begin. Today, the Boston Red Sox acquired some first base depth (also known as Mike Lowell insurance) by picking up Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

LaRoche is what he is – a slightly above average average left-handed bat who can play first without being a disaster and needs to be platooned. He’s good enough to start against right-handers for a team not in contention, but he’s a reserve on any team really trying to win.

ZIPS projects him for a .352 wOBA going forward, but switching to the AL East will hurt him a bit. His defense at first is below average, so the overall package is worth about +1 to +2 wins per season. He’s not a terrible player – just a bit below average. He’s also the kind of player you should never pay serious money to, which is why the Pirates had to be thrilled to dump the rest of the $7 million he was owed for 2009.

Boston can make this kind of move because of their financial resources – they almost certainly didn’t give up anything of value to get LaRoche, whose contract makes him a negative asset to most clubs. But, as a team with a large payroll, they have the ability to drop $3 million on a back-up first baseman for the stretch run.

Having LaRoche around won’t change the dynamics of the AL East race too much, but he does provide a stoploss option in case Lowell gets hurt again. Boston’s upside didn’t change much with this move, but they did raise their floor. LaRoche gives them the ability to not have a hole at first base, and that has value. Is it worth $3 million? If you’re the Red Sox, apparently it is.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


30 Responses to “LaRoche To Boston”

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  1. I would look at it over who he is replacing. Their options right now if Lowell is out is Mark Kotsay. Kotsay has league average first base skills, but a below average bat. He can play the outfield, but Baldelli is probably better suited for that.

    Again not many teams can take the 3 million hit for a role player, but it’s about the best reserve they could get since watching Lowell run has become very painful.

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  2. Joe Morgan says:

    why wouldnt they have gone for jack wilson while they were at it? the pirates would have thrown him in for next to nothing

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    • Joe R says:

      I bet they tried and failed. Just because they low balled him on a contract recently doesn’t mean they don’t realize his trade deadline value.

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      • Joe R says:

        Also forgot to add, Wilson will probably be a Type B FA at the end of the season. So essentially, the Pirates will be trading away a top 50 pick in the 2010 draft if they traded Wilson, too.

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      • dtoddwin says:

        You are assuming the would offer him arbitration which they wouldn’t.

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    • Judy says:

      I think getting Wilson for next to nothing will take waiting until closer to the deadline. But I also think the Sox would probably like to get a longer look at Lowrie before deciding.

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  3. bob maggoi says:

    i am not entirely sure that switching to the al east will neccesarily hurt him. sure, there is better talent in the al east than in the nl central, but you should consider the benefit laroche may get from playing in an actual competative environment rather than playing in pittsburgh. also, he is moving to a more hitter friendly park and will be in a stronger line up.

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  4. Peter Gammons says:

    Adam LaRoche is a better hitter than Albert Pujols.

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  5. Joe R says:

    Like it. Finally gives us a reserve corner IF with a decent bat, same way Hinske served (albeit not all that well) in 2007 and Casey in 2008. Kotsay has become Darin Erstad V2.0. He’ll stick around cause he can play multiple positions, but he’s simply not a good enough hitter anymore for a contender to justify giving him PA’s as a 1B or corner OF, and not rangy enough to spell Ellsbury in CF.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      Me, as well. Defensively, his acquisition is probably a wash, but offensively, with Lowell mashing lefties (.961 OPS) and LaRoche righties (.833 OPS), there’s nothing about the trade I dislike, assuming a platoon has been born today.

      I’m also interested in his hitting style. http://tiny.cc/Wallball reveals that on his hits he’s a stict pull hitter but on his flyouts he pushes the ball into left, ie, Da Green Monstah. I wonder how efficient he can be in utilizing that wall.

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      • Joe R says:

        Definitely a factor in maybe why the Sox brought him in. If he hits a lot of liners to LF, that’s instantly very effective at Fenway. It’s surprisingly a hard place to hit home runs, gap guys and LD hitters tend to feast on the place, though.

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  6. Matt T says:

    does this have anything to do with helping resign Bay? Were those 2 good friends in Pittsburgh?

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    • Joe R says:

      Maybe a little, but I doubt it. LaRoche is a Free Agent after this season, too, and will probably carry no compensation barring a last 1/3rd of the year explosion on offense.

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    • Moe says:

      I love Bay, don’t get me wrong, but i really hope the Yankees overpay for him and Boston is able to aquire Holliday this offseason.

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      • Joe R says:

        Really?

        I know fangraphs condemns Bay’s defense, but baseball prospectus has him at 7.0 WARP-3 this season.

        What can we expect from Holliday in Boston? .385 OBP and MAYBE .500 SLG (I’ll say .480)? Sure I’d rather Holliday for 9 mil / yr than Bay for 15 mil, but Holliday’s not even 30 yet, I still think he’ll get his money.

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  7. Moe says:

    Actually, he’s not worth his $3M to the Red Sox either. It’s been reported that the Pirates have send cash along to Boston in this deal.

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  8. Joel says:

    The SOSH brigade is all up in arms over this move.

    This is nothing to get excited about. The Sox needed corner depth, and now they got it.

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  9. Alireza says:

    I think the AL East is somewhere for LaRoche to thrive. He goes from a left-hander with moderate power in the NL Central to a left-hander with excellent power in the AL East, given the parks.

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  10. Ryan S says:

    LaRoche plays better D than what the numbers give him credit for, especially recently. The problem with his bat is that when he’s slumping, he’s rarely even making contact with the ball which is what really kills the offense. I’m surprised they were able to get what they did for him.

    That being said, any of you Boston fans able to give me a low down on Strickland and Diaz? I know about Diaz’s defense and Strickland’s control but where do they rank among BP prospects?

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    • dtoddwin says:

      Totally agree. I haven’t seen the latest Dewan numbers but LaRoche is very solid with the glove. He’s also slow as hell.

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  11. Bubba says:

    SoxProspects.com rank Argenis Diaz #29, and Hunter Strickland #38 among Red Sox prospects.
    Sickels liked Diaz a bit better, giving him a C+ grade. Fungible prospects, these are.

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    • Joe R says:

      Yeah, no idea what’s dislikable in the deal for the Red Sox. Two guys that project to be career AAAA players, whatever.

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  12. Ryan S says:

    I’m assuming these means the Bucs will move G. Jones to 1st and bring up Milledge. I’m fairly excited to see what he can do. Word in the orginization is that he’s really impressed with his effort. Hopefully he’s put his maturity issues behind him.

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  13. Tom Au says:

    A good deal for the Red Sox. Hopefully a good deal for the Pirates; they got a shortstop they may soon need.

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