By John Manuel
July 31, 2003
The Yankees addressed their offensive shortfall at third base by acquiring Aaron Boone from the Reds on Thursday. Their shortfall at third was the Dodgers’ windfall, as the Yankees traded Robin Ventura to Los Angeles for Bubba Crosby and Triple-A righthander Scott Proctor later in the day.
The Dodgers’ offensive woes have been well-chronicled, as they’ve outscored only the Tigers among major league clubs. Los Angeles is expected to use Ventura initially at first base, in place of the injured Fred McGriff. On Wednesday, Jolbert Cabrera became the seventh Dodger this year to start at first, joining a list that includes such luminaries as Larry Barnes, Ron Coomer and Mike Kinkade. Ventura also could spell the slumping Adrian Beltre at his normal position, third base.
Ventura, 36, will be an improvement, even though he was hitting just .251-9-42 in 89 games. With a .344 on-base percentage and .392 slugging percentage, he’s having his worst season since his rookie year of 1990. The Dodgers hope he’ll resemble the player who batted .247-27-93 in 2002 and .268-284-1,141 over 1,928 big league games. He’s no longer the defender who won six Gold Gloves, but he’s still solid at third base. Making $5 million on a one-year contract, Ventura will become a free agent after the season.
Crosby, 26, was a 1998 first-round pick out of Rice but was considered a bust until this season. A career .272 hitter with little power entering 2003, he hit .361-12-57 in 76 games at Triple-A Las Vegas to earn his first big league callup. Crosby, still the Pacific Coast League leader in batting and slugging (.635), had gone 1-for-12 (.083) in nine games with the Dodgers. His 12 homers already are a career high. He also runs well and provides good outfield defense, though is arm is marginal.
Proctor, a 1998 fifth-round pick out of Florida State, also has had a breakthrough season. After throwing 88-91 mph as a starter, he moved to the bullpen (his role in college) and saw his velocity jump to 96-99 mph. In 41 appearances between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas, he was 5-4, 2.58 with a 59-20 strikeout-walk ratio in 66 innings and a .231 opponent average.