March 09, 2008
Manager Ron Washington has been adamant [that Ben] Broussard will open the season playing regularly against lefties. The Rangers are expected to face Seattle lefty Erik Bedard on opening day.
"I don't want him coming to the park every day wondering if he's going to play against a left-hander," Washington said. "He's going to play against them until he proves he can't."
I know how to keep Broussard from wondering. You say: “NO! Ben, you will not start against lefties! Ever, ever, ever! When you do start, you will be pulled for a pinch-hitter if the opposition brings in a lefty. When you don’t start, you’ll pinch-hit against righty relievers.”
And then, for good measure, you type those words and tape them to his locker. Voila, no more wondering.
Was Broussard unfairly cast into a platoon role early in his career? I think not, but even if so, the fact remains that he’s 31 years old and hasn’t hit lefties well since A-ball. Broussard has a line of .227/.290/.399 in 387 MLB appearances against lefties. In 114 appearances in AA and AAA, he batted .214/.289/.369. 501 PAs with a sub-.300 on-base percentage may not provide absolute proof that he doesn’t deserve to play against lefties, but the evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt.
…Chris Shelton and Jason Botts have far superior records in both the Majors and high minors against righties. Botts hasn’t translated his sterling AAA record into big-league success, but he’s at least shown some aptitude at reaching base against lefties. Also, unlike the placeholders Broussard and Shelton, Botts has a small chance at a role on the next good Rangers team.
How about Frank Catalanotto at first (career .248/.332/.344)? Stupid, right? Well, replacing Broussard with Frank Catalanotto gains 30 points of OBP but loses over 50 in slugging, pretty close to a wash. That only emphasizes the absurdity of this situation. Nobody would suggest starting Cat at first against lefties, yet the record indicates he’d be no worse than Broussard.
Washington has an obligation to start either the best players, or those who could become the best. Against lefties, Broussard fits neither description.
Posted by Lucas at March 9, 2008 10:35 PM