Another reason why signing Carlos Lee isn’t the answer
By Christopher Heun
Three players who may or may not be with the O’s next year are in the midst of some hitting streaks that make you wonder about what the future may bring.
Carlos Lee 2006 season
MIL 388 AB, 18 2B, 28 HR, 81 RBI, .347/.549/.896 OBP/SLG/OPS
TEX 198 AB, 16 2B, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .379/.510/.889 OBP/SLG/OPS
Some people in Baltimore, including many at The Sun, seem to think Lee is the answer to the black hole of futility in left field at Camden Yards. (Through last week O’s left fielders were last in the major leagues with a .681 combined on base/slugging percentage.)
After hitting 28 home runs in little over half a season in Milwaukee, Lee has hit just six in 50 games since coming to Texas in a July 28 trade. His slugging percentage has dropped because many hits that were leaving the ballpark in the National League are now falling for doubles. Still, he’s getting on base at a much higher rate with the Rangers, so his overall OPS is nearly identical.
Is this the big bopper the Orioles want in the middle of their lineup? Suddenly, he’s a glorified doubles hitter.
Kevin Millar 2006 season
Aug. 18: .235/.343/.379/.722 AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
Sept. 20: .263/.362/.427/.789 AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
With both Javy Lopez and Jeff Conine gone, Millar has been playing every day, which he cites as the reason for his recent hot streak. He’s hit in 12 of his last 13 games, batting .373 (19-for-51) with four doubles and four homers. That helped raise his average nearly 30 points since August 18.
Millar’s skills are working the count and getting on base; he’s second on the team in walks and on-base percentage. The problem is, for a first baseman, he doesn’t have enough power (14 homers in nearly 400 at-bats). Only three other teams have gotten fewer home runs from their first basemen this year.
He says he wants to come back next year. Sure, but not as the starting first baseman. He’s a pinch-hitter and reserve player, but he might not be ready to accept that role.
Melvin Mora 2006 season, by month
April 104 AB, 7 2B, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .364/.490/.855 OBP/SLG/OPS
May 111 AB, 6 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, .380/.468/.849
June 109 AB, 3 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .320/.303/.623
July 103 AB, 1 2B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, .368/.388/.756
Aug. 99 AB, 3 2B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, .295/.283/.577
Sept. 64 AB, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .299/.469/.767
Total 590 AB, 24 2B, 16 HR, 78 RBI, .341/.397/.738
We love Melvin, especially when he rips his teammates for their losing mentality. But we’re no different than anyone else: we love him a lot more when he’s hitting 27 HR (which he did in 2004 and 2005) and slugging over .500, (which he did in 2003 and 2004). We defended his right to a big-bucks contract this spring, and now that he’s gotten it from owner Peter Angelos, he needs to hit like his old self.
The knock on the contract was that his best years were behind him, but did anyone think his bat would quiet as quickly as this? For three consecutive months this summer, Melvin managed just four extra base hits. Though he’s turned it around somewhat in September, his impersonation of Leo Gomez has got to stop.
Unlike Lee and Millar, there’s no doubt Melvin will be an everyday player next season for the Birds. The question is, what kind of player he will be.