The Red Sox have traded for Scott Podsednik, giving the Phillies cash considerations. He figures to give the Red Sox organizational depth in the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury is still on the DL, and Marlon Byrd has been miserable since being traded for from the Cubs (a .281/.299/.297 line with a -.2 WAR since the trade).
Podsednik didn’t play in the Majors in 2011, and played in just 34 minor league games for 4 different affiliates and 2 different organizations. In that time he hit just .254/.340/.396. The Phillies invited him to spring training on a minor league deal, but chose him over Juan Pierre to be on the big league roster (a move that is actually looking pretty smart right now, as Pierre has a .5 WAR so far this season). In 22 games in AAA this year, Podsednik has been awful (.203/.286/.216). Not suprisingly, his defensive skills have eroded somewhat (although not quite as much as you would expect). His range factor (a measure of how many balls a player gets too, not the best defensive tool, but minor league defensive statistics are basically non existent outside of the not very helpful fielding percentage and range factor) is 2.11 in the outfield, while it was 2.19 in his MLB career (league average is about 2.25, so despite speed being part of Podsednik’s game for most of his career, he didn’t get to as many balls as you would expect). Podsednik was projected by ZIPs to have a 77 OPS + this year, which seems really optimistic.
In more AL East moves, the Baltimore Orioles brought up Bill Hall from AAA after placing Mark Reynolds on the DL (Reynolds has been pretty disappointing, at replacement level according to Fangraphs WAR, Reynolds is a guy I have mentioned on this site to be a good add). Hall signed a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training with the Yankees but refused minor league assignment and then signed with the Orioles (the Yankees just promoted Jayson Nix, who is projected to put up a .2 WAR this year according to ZIPs).
Hall was miserable in 2011, splitting time between the Astros and Giants with a .211/.261/.314 slash line. Over the last 3 years, Hall has a 77 OPS + (3.6 Runs Created Per Game) and .1 D-WAR (-11 UZR last year at 2nd base). In 15 games in AAA (IL, less hitter friendly than the PCL) Hall had just a .650 OPS. Amazingly he had 4 walks and 25 strikeouts! This makes a lot of sense since we watched his plate discipline absolutely erode in 2011. In his career, Hall has an O-Swing % (percentage of pitches out of the zone that the hitter has swung at) of 24. In 2010, it went up to 31.7 %, then 35.7 % in 2011. His contact skills basically disappeared as a result. How about his spray charts?
Here is Hall from 2010:
Here is Hall from 2011:
The first thing that really jumps out is the amount of homers he hit to left field in 2010 and he didn’t hit any that way in 2011. It is very tempting to point out that Hall played 2010 in Boston, where you can get a lot of homers that way if you can elevate the ball. However, Hall started 2011 in Houston a place that has an easier left field home run porch. For example, look at Carlos Lee’s spray charts since the beginning of 2009:
It is not outlandish to say that Carlos Lee’s power would be almost nonexistent if it wasn’t for that home run porch in Houston. From 2009-2010, Lee had 32 homers at home, and 18 on the road. The point is, Houston is a very friendly hitters ballpark and Hall couldn’t launch one over that left field wall. It also seems that Hall was a little more pull happy, at least at balls that stayed in the infield. This makes the fact that he didn’t hit a homer to the left side even more embarrassing. It doesn’t seem like it was bad luck for Hall in 2011, it looks like his plate approach has regressed to the point where he is no longer a big league hitter. Hall was projected by ZIPs to have a 67 OPS + season, the same as Munenori Kawasaki and Irving Falu. Strangely, that seems really appropriate.