Tuesday, December 28, 2004
The following is not the best forecast of Millar and Mientkiewicz for 2005, but I think it is reasonable. More importantly, my conclusion substantiates the widely held belief in Red Sox Nation that the Sox two first baseman are virtually equal on the field.
From 2001-2003, when Minky was a full-timer with the Twins, he complied 1754 plate appearances with 869 bases (TB + BB) rendering .495 of a base per PA. As a full-time Red Sox in 2005, Minky will get 600 PA resulting in an estimated 297 bases plus another 25 with the glove giving him a total of 312 (I estimate that Minky will save one base every six games over Millar and play 150). Going through the same math for Millar using 2002-2004, the conclusion is 311 bases in 2005. The players will likely help the Sox equally next season.
The next step is which player’s skill set is more valuable to the Sox. Minky has a better glove, but Millar has a better bat. A full season of Mueller, Nixon, and a short stop that puts up a better line than 273/308/408 should keep the 2005 Sox on pace to score 850 runs next season. Millar’s slightly better bat is not needed nor is Minky’s gold glove at first. The Sox have only one ground ball pitcher slated for 200 innings next season, Matt Clement. The extreme, Lowe, is heading out of town. Plus, the addition of Renteria and a full year of Mueller should assist with scooping up more grounders. Neither player fills more of a void than the other.
Now cost, Millar will make $3.5 million next season and Minky will earn $3.75 million. Minky also has a .45 buyout in 2006 and his luxury tax figure is $3.5 million versus Millar’s $2.93 million. In total, Minky will cost the Sox $1.498 ($.25 + $.45 + $.798 [($3.5 - $2.93) * (1 + 40%)]) more than Millar. $1.5 million is not a significant amount of money for the Sox, but could make a July trade for a speedster (Dave Roberts), a LOOGY (Mike Myers) and/or another pitcher (Al Leiter, Steve Trachsel, Ted Lilly) more palatable.
Given the available free agents, Minky’s glove is easier to replace than Millar’s bat. Dave McCarty would likely fill the void as Millar’s defensive replacement. None of the free agents with pop would sign with the Sox to be Minky’s caddy.
In summary, the Sox should look to deal Minky first because his best asset can be replaced and Millar is cheaper, but it will all come down to which first baseman brings the bigger bounty for the Sox. Hopefully, the purse will include a strikeout relief pitcher with options.