Red Sox Find Second Base Answer In Loretta

By Will Kimmey
December 8, 2005

Maybe the Red Sox don’t need a general manager. After already pulling off one coup in landing Josh Beckett from the Marlins, the Sox nabbed former all-star second baseman Mark Loretta from the Padres for Doug Mirabelli, a backup catcher.

While Boston will have to replace Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher, Loretta offers an affordable upgrade (at $3.75 million for 2006) over Mark Bellhorn and Tony Graffanino at second.

Loretta, 34, is a patient hitter with gap power at the plate and a fundamentally sound fielder with average range. Loretta batted .335/.391/.495 with 16 home runs and 76 RBIs in 2004, setting career bests in every category. He missed two months with a strained ligament in his left thumb in 2005, and his numbers tumbled to .280/.360/.347 with three homers and 38 RBIs in 404 at-bats. He’s a career .301/.365/.408 hitter with 63 homers and 466 RBIs over 10 seasons.

The Padres save about $2 million in the trade, which they used to re-sign closer Trevor Hoffman. Mirabelli, 35, is a solid defensive catcher whose righthanded stroke also landed him plate appearances as a DH and pinch-hitter against lefties. He it .240/.356/.420 in 50 at-bats against them in 2005. He hit .228/.309/.412 overall with six homers and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats.

Mirabelli has compiled .241/.328/.425 numbers with 47 home runs in 1,159 career at-bats over 10 seasons, and his 230 at-bats for the Giants in 2000 rank as his career high. He will share catching duties with Miguel Olivo if San Diego loses Ramon Hernandez, as expected.