Height/Weight: 6'1", 200 lbs
Contract Status: Under contract through 2008; club option in 2009
|2008 - Hank Blalock||30||117||13||31||5||1||4||12||10||15||1||0||.265||.326||.427|
Profile: Solid, but not great, offensive third baseman whose nagging injuries the last two seasons have hampered productivity. At the plate he's efficient, and can produce home run power to right field. When healthy can play a competent third base. A former All-Star looking to produce as he did pre-shoulder troubles.
Pros: As far as bets go, Blalock might be a fairly safe one if the Twins wanted to attempt to improve their prospect at third base without giving away too much. Blalock has offensive upside and is reaching his physical prime, and doesn't strike out often. He's due roughly $2 MM for the remainder of '08, with a club option for '09 worth $6.2 MM. That's not a bad price for a stop-gap, who could be signed to an extension if necessary while still being young enough to hold down the position for a few years. There's some potential for a low-risk, high-reward pick up here. He showed signs of his old self last season, and also this season prior to his trip to the disabled list.
Cons: He does a lot of things well, but nothing exceptionally, which could be blamed on his injuries...but that doesn't mean they should be ignored. While he doesn't strike out often, he struggles with plate discipline and can swing at a lot of pitches outside the strike zone. His power potential is likely limited, due to his shoulder problems; his isolated power is .162, and his homer-to-fly ratio is slightly below average. Not for third basemen, for all of baseball. While there's potential here for the Twins to pick up a star for a relatively cheap price, there's a lot of proof that Blalock isn't the producer he was in '03 and '04....maybe even '05. Finally, his splits raise huge red flags. He's another left-handed hitter, which wouldn't be as big of an issue as it is if he could hit left-handed pitching...which he can't (.623 OPS). Additionally, he hits miserably away from Arlington (.670 OPS).
Conclusions: Of all the options available, Blalock is my fallback option IF I can't get anyone else and IF I really don't believe Brian Buscher can hold the fort. He's a great low buy, but having said that the Twins don't have a good history with those deals recently...remember Phil Nevin and Bret Boone? Blalock is certainly better than either of those players, and the possibility of a return is there, but the question the Twins need to ask themselves in regards to the Rangers third baseman is this: Are we in a position where taking this kind of risk is acceptable? If it works out, they're geniuses. If it falls flat on its face, everyone will claim they squandered their shot.