After spending the winter doing everything they could to add left-handed hitters and balance to the roster, the Cubs are reportedly looking to add a righty to the mix that can backup Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. The two names that continue to surface….Kevin Millar and Rich Aurilia.
While one is a self-proclaimed Idiot and by all accounts a great clubhouse guy with ties to Ryan Dempster…the other pounded southpaws to the tune of a .321/.377/.526/.903 line in 64 games with five home runs and 13 doubles and can still play all four infield positions. Both will turn 38 in September, so if the Cubs are interested in both players, which one would be a better fit on Lou Piniella’s bench?
Kevin Millar put together a solid year for the Orioles in 2008, despite declining numbers for the third season in a row. Millar hit .234 in 145 games (531 at bats) with a .323 OBP, 20 home runs and 25 doubles with 72 RBI. Still his line from 2008 (.234/.323/.394/.717) was a career low and his second half (.222/.296/.396/.692) more than signaled Millar’s days as an everyday player were coming to an end.
Millar hit lefties (.238/.341/.395/.736 with 8 doubles and 5 home runs) slightly better than righties (.232/.316/.393/.709 with 17 doubles and 15 home runs) in less than half as many at bats (147 against lhp, 384 against rhp).
Millar made only two at bats as a pinch-hitter last season and did not record a hit in either at bat.
While Millar might be the type of player the Cubs clubhouse needs, how he could help the team win games on the field is questionable at best.
Of the 145 games Millar played in last season, 130 were at first base and the last time he played more than 10 games at any position other than first was in 2005. Millar filled in for Manny Ramirez for 20 games in left and another 14 in right the year after the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.
Millar last played third base in 2002 with the Marlins for two games…a year earlier was the last season he played 10 or more games at the hot corner. And of Millar’s 1297 career big league games, he has played 28 at third base.
For his career, Kevin Millar’s line as a pinch-hitter is .214/.336/.321/.657 with 6 doubles and 2 home runs.
If the Cubs are looking for more than a right-handed bat off the bench, Kevin Millar might not be the best fit.
Rich Aurilia bounced back from an injury-shortened 2007 season (.252/.304/.368/.672 with 19 doubles and 5 home runs in 99 games) and put together a very good year for the Giants.
Aurilia played in 140 games, most since 2001, and hit 10 home runs with 21 doubles in 407 at bats. His line (.283/.332/.413/.745) was not off too far from his career numbers (.277/.330.437/.767) and Aurilia played almost as many games at third base (63) as at first base (82)….he played one game at second base. Aurilia hit 10 home runs with 21 doubles in 407 at bats.
Aurilia’s split stats are what separate him from Kevin Millar. Aurilia hit .321 with a .377 OBP in 137 at bats against lefties with 13 doubles and 5 home runs. And on the road, .305/.361/.433/.794 with 12 doubles and 5 home runs in 74 games (210 at bats).
Aurilia kept hitting in the second half despite the fact his playing time was cut. Aurilia finished the year by hitting .333 with a .379 OBP in 20 games in September….and his second half line was very respectable .297/.335/.392/.728 with 2 home runs and 7 doubles in 57 games.
Where Millar has been just a first baseman for the last several years, Aurilia has continued to play all over the infield.
- 52 games in 2006
- 22 games in 2007
- 63 games in 2008
- 47 games in 2006
- 55 games in 2007
- 82 games in 2008
- 26 games in 2006
- 12 games in 2007
- 0 games in 2008
- 10 games in 2006
- 9 games in 2007
- 1 game in 2008
As a pinch hitter in 2008, Aurilia was 2-for-8 with a double (.250/.250/.375/.625) and for his career 25-for-90 (.278/.350/.433/.783) with 2 doubles and 4 home runs.
Lou Piniella likes to have versatility. While Kevin Millar could help with keeping the team loose and focused throughout the year, it is questionable, at best, what he could add to the mix. With Mark DeRosa no longer in the picture, Rich Aurilia could be the right fit off the bench for the Chicago Cubs.