Saturday, November 20, 2004

On Mientkiewicz and Kim

El Guapo's Ghost wrote me to ask what I think of a deal that would send Jason Kendall and cash to the Red Sox in exchange for Doug Mientkiewicz and Byung-Hyun Kim.

Both players are nice to have in the right context, but from a baseball perspective this wouldn't be a good move for the Pirates, so I have to say that I don't like the idea. Mientkiewicz had a poor year offensively in 2004, but his defense is top-notch, he's still fairly young, and he has put up decent offensive numbers in the past. For a contending team in need of a first baseman, he might be an acceptable short-term solution or bench option, but his offense isn't good enough for him to be anything more at this point. Pirates GM Dave Littlefield seems to love Mientkiewicz - his name has come up repeatedly in Pirates trade rumors. Littlefield probably thinks, perhaps for good reason, that the lefty Mientkiewicz would see his numbers improve at PNC Park, but I don't see them improving to the point where his offense would be above average at first base. His defense, of course, would be an enormous upgrade over whoever else the Pirates might play there next year, but I'd still rather see the Pirates give J.R. House a real chance than watch another mediocre veteran who will be gone in a year. House might play catcher if Kendall is gone, but I think a lot of those at-bats would go to Humberto Cota, which would probably be pretty bad.

I like Kim about as much as anyone at this point, and it's easy to forget that he'll only be 26 next year. His upside is still very high. But he's pretty clearly a head case, and he can't be regarded as anything but a question mark right now.

If the Red Sox were to offer this deal, I think the Pirates might take it, depending on the amount of cash involved. But their team would be much worse as a result. Kendall isn't worth the money he's making, but he's worth a good amount, and any difference between Kendall's salary and those of the players acquired for him is likely to go into the pockets of the ownership, anyway.

Thanks for writing, EGG.

* * *
Leone for Third is linking to VORB now. Go check them out for articulate and often very vivid disucssion of the Seattle Mariners. Right now, they're discussing the Mariners' attempts to sign a third baseman... who isn't Justin Leone.


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