May 19, 2011
Transaction Analysis Blog
Boston Nets Morales
Boston Red Sox
Busy day at the office for Theo Epstein’s bunch, as they swap out left-handed relievers and add a veteran starter with a pair of their starters on the mend.
The focus here is going to be on Morales. The 6-foot tall lefty turned 25 in January and appeared in his 100th major league game earlier this season. Whether Morales’ stuff can play in the majors has never been a question, but control and injury issues have hampered a once-promising career. Morales still comes at left-handed batters with wicked hot fastball that can dance into the upper-90s and a developing slider. His success against same-handed batters is undeniable, as lefties have a career mark against him of .185/.291/.333.
Okajima did not start the season in the majors but crept in after Dennys Reyes proved unreliable. Terry Francona used Okajima against 36 batters during his time in Boston and 13 of them were left-handed batters. Those lefties hit .364/.462/.455 off Okajima. Small sample size, yes, but Okajima was not lethal against lefties last season either. Okajima’s inability to retire lefties is important because he has proven ineffective against righties since 2009 (sparring, amusingly, a 23-plate appearance sample this season).
The intent behind having a left-handed reliever is that he can retire same-handed batters (at worst), and (at best) possibly provide a threat to righties as well. The Red Sox either saw enough to think Okajima was beyond his means in the major leagues or think they can unlock the talent stored in Morales’ left arm. Really, the Sox should experience an upgrade if all Morales does is replicate his career numbers moving forward.
Not much has changed with Millwood since he opted out of his New York deal. The Red Sox could use some ready-to-start arms, though, and he fits the bill. What would prove interesting is if Boston considers trying Morales out in the rotation again. There is no indication that is in the works.