With the collective eyes of New England focused on Glendale, the Red Sox acquisition of Sean Casey may have fallen just a bit under the radar.
Sean Casey is the first significant addition to the Red Sox this off-season. He was signed to a 1 year deal worth $800,000. This brings up a multitude of questions.
#1: Why Sean Casey? Don't the Sox already have Youkilis and Ortiz, why get Casey?
The Red Sox biggest offensive holes in 2007 were short-stop, right-field, center-field, and catcher. So why get another first baseman, which was already the deepest position on the roster?
Unlike Ortiz, Casey is a good defensive first-baseman. Unlike Youkilis, Casey is left-handed. And perhaps most importantly: unlike Ortiz, Casey didn't undergo knee surgery in the off-season.
Casey is an insurance policy. We have no idea what kind of player Ortiz will be post-op. Having Casey gives the Sox a viable option at DH, one who can hit around .290 and knock out a few homeruns.
Casey may also provide insurance for another position. This is mere speculation, but is it possible the Red Sox might shift Youkilis to right-field if Drew continues to struggle? Youk played 18 games in left-field two years ago. He's be no Vlad Guerrero, but he'd get by out there.
But let's say Ortiz is fine, and Drew hits like he's supposed to; what does Sean Casey do then? He becomes a good pinch-hitter. He becomes a lefty replacement for Youkilis in certain situations. He becomes a defensive replacement. He won't push the Sox over the top, but he'd still be a positive addition.
#2: Why would Sean Casey want to be an insurance policy?
Three words: World Series ring. I wouldn't be surprised if Casey's agent went out to contending teams like the Red Sox, trying to see if there was any interest for his services. The abbreviated contract length and low money total was the bait that lured the Red Sox in. So the Red Sox get some flexibility and insurance, and Casey gets an opportunity to play for the best team in baseball. It's win win.
#3: Why is Sean Casey nicknamed "The Mayor?"
He got that monicker in Cincinnati. He's known for talking to every single baserunner that stops by first base. In 2007 he was voted "friendliest player in baseball" by his fellow players. He's also deeply involved in numerous charities. In fact, he and Conan O'Brien co-founded Labels Are For Jars, an anti-hunger charity in Lawrence, MA. So he's generally a nice guy.
#4: What does this mean for the 2008 Red Sox?
It means the Red Sox have some insurance. If Ortiz or Youkilis gets hurt, then Casey can fill in for them. If Lowell gets hurt, then Youkilis can play third, and Casey can play first. If Drew struggles, then Youkilis can play right, and Casey can play first.
This acquisition also gives us a good bat off the bench. Last year we really didn't have anyone to plug into a late inning game-changing situation. If Julio Lugo was up with 2 on in the 9th, there really wasn't much we could do about it. Casey gives us more options.
And you can't beat the price. $800,000 is a lot of money to you and me, but to the Red Sox, it's a pittance. And for a guy who has a career .301 average and .366 OBP, it's a bargain.