As we continue our Roster Rundown before Spring Training, we move to 1b and Carlos Pena. Pena, who might be GM Andrew Friedmans best acquisition since Stuart Sternberg took over the team is looking to bounce back from a year where he was productive but with much room to improve.
While Pena showed last season that he is still a premier power threat in the AL East, no easy task, he also showed that he is a liability if he isn’t hitting HR or 2b’s. He’s pretty much an all or nothing proposition behind the plate, and while that has it’s advantages, he either is going to have to walk a little more, strikeout a little less or just hit the ball a smidge better in 2010 to truly maximize his power skills. He struck out a staggering 163 times in 2009. While it isn’t even the K’s that bother me, its the reduction in his hits that truly irks me. His .AVG dropped from .282 in 2007, to .247 in 2008 and .227 in 2009. That is a drop of .055. That equates to about 30 hits per season, which is an extra hit every 4th game or so.
This is a big season for Pena and the Rays. He is a free agent at the end of the year, and if the Rays get off to a slow start, you can guarantee that he will be the first guy that the Rays shop, in order to be able to save enough money to sign Carl Crawford.
Bill James sees Pena’s 2009 as an aberration and sees a .013 point increase in 2010.
If Pena can put up those kind of numbers, the Rays will be in the thick of the playoff chase.