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Sinking Shipmate

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Shea Hillenbrand

Free Agent Replacements

I don't know. I don't think Russ Davis is on a team. If you think about Hillenbrand as a first baseman, there's Craig Wilson, Sean Casey...pretty much the guys mentioned here and here. As a third baseman, Hillenbrand isn't a terrible fielding first baseman.

In-house replacements

None to speak of for Hillenbrand's specific role of high average, medium power, and strike zone buggery. If Lance Niekro could hit in the majors half as well as he can in AAA, maybe. But that' s not going to happen.

Would bring him back at....

Two years, $3M per. And I'd look him right in the eye and say, "Now, Shea, this is a lot of money for a utility player. I hope you realize how special you are...." Then maybe I'd scratch him behind the ears and give him something shiny to play with. Anything, so long as he doesn't start that "sinking ship" crap again when he only starts against left-handed pitching.

Guess at actual salary, destination....

Three years, $5M per, Detroit. I don't have a clue as to what Hillenbrand could command. His tirade last season couldn't have helped, though watching the same Blue Jay manager wrassle with Ted Lilly might have put things in perspective. Maybe Hillenbrand was just one mixer in an ass cocktail. If his behavior didn't help, his brutal play for the Giants over the second half didn't help either. He's kind of the free agent that could sign a one-year deal on the cheap just as easily as sign a three-year contract for way too much money.

First choice to replace him?

Craig Wilson. I'm not as in love with Wilson as some of the other stat-lubbers, but he'll probably be cheaper than Hillenbrand, he can play right field, and it never hurts to have a third catcher on the roster. Also, there's that small matter of a higher on-base percentage, and all that.

Trade Options

I love the Morgan Ensberg option, but only if it comes cheap. It seems as if every trade option can only be broken down in terms of "Hennessey cheap" or "Sanchez expensive". There really aren't too many other movable parts right now. Ensberg isn't consistent enough to make him Sanchez expensive.

Conclusion

Are we really talking about this? Where's the baseball? Where'd the baseball go? Here baseball baseball baseball. Here baseball baseball baseball. At least it's already...November 8th? Oh, ye gods.

Hillenbrand isn't a bad player, he just needs to hit for a high average to be worth anything. Those kinds of hitters are always going to be streaky and unreliable. Add in his struggles against right-handed pitching, and he's not a starting first baseman in a good lineup. He's better than what the team started for most of last season, though, including the version of Hillenbrand we saw. I wish a lefty-swinging prospect like Travis Ishikawa were ready for the majors, because Hillenbrand would be a nice complement in that situation.