Sunday, January 21, 2007

Trot Nixon Signs With Indians.

As if we didn't know that the signing of JD Drew to that hideously expensive contact in December signified the end of the Trot Nixon era in Red Sox history, it has become official as the Cleveland Indians have signed the former Sox outfielder to a one-year, $3 million deal. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

CLEVELAND - After agreeing to sign with Cleveland, Trot Nixon turned an important task over to his 5-year-old son. I let Chase pick the number," Nixon recalled. "He first picked 32, and I was like, why?" "Because you're 32 years old," Chase said. "Well, in two months, I'm going to be 33," his father replied.

With that, Nixon decided to wear No. 33 with the Indians, who agreed Friday to a $3 million, one-year contract with the oft-injured outfielder. Nixon wore No. 7 with the Red Sox, the team he had spent his entire major league career with. No. 33 is just fine with him. "That was my high school baseball number," he said.

Nixon, who will be joined in Cleveland by former Red Sox closer Keith Foulke, batted .268 with eight homers and 52 RBIs in 114 games last season. He was sidelined from July 31 to Sept. 4 because of a strained right biceps, which he first hurt in June, and a staph infection. Nixon has gone on the DL in each of the last three seasons, including two stints in 2004, and has not had 500 at-bats since 2002.

"Obviously, I don't want go out and play hurt and eventually hurt the team," he said. "No. 1 it's going to effect the team. No. 2, it's just going to put me more in a hole, meaning having to go on the DL."

He remembered back to when he hurt his back in his first year of professional baseball. "I don't think I regained my swing for like three years because I was scared," he said.

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said the Indians wanted Nixon for his experience and the club did its medical due diligence on him. "We felt comfortable that with the burden we're looking to put on him, we felt comfortable with his health," Shapiro said.

During 11 seasons with the Red Sox, Nixon hit .278 with 133 homers and 523 RBIs in 982 games. In 2001, he was selected the club's MVP after batting .306 with 28 homers and 86 RBIs in 134 games.

Nixon will likely bat second and platoon in right field with Casey Blake, who also will see time at first. Shin-Soo Choo had been set to platoon with Blake. Cleveland had talked with Nixon's agent last fall, then backed off after agreeing to an $11.5 million, three-year deal with David Dellucci.

"It gives us a tremendous amount of depth that should protect us against injury and poor performance," Shapiro said. Nixon can earn $2 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each for 200 plate appearances and every additional 50 plate appearances through 550.

I remember when Nixon was the Sox number one draft pick in 1993. The Sox brass told everyone that Nixon would become a perennial 20-homer, 20-steal guy with solid defense. Well, it didn't quite work out that way. He struggled in his first couple of seasons, but manager Jimy Williams stuck with him, and hitting coach Jim Rice (who should be in the Hall of Fame) helped him get his swing in order. Nixon did enjoy three 20-homer seasons (2001-2003 with 27, 24 and 28 respectively), but the last three seasons saw him hit a total of 27 homers, mostly because of the missed time due to the injuries outlined in the excerpt.

Nixon was a no-nonsense player who seemed to play with an angry intensity that the Sox seldom see in their players. He had a knack for big hits, especially against the hated Yankees (and particularly against Roger Clemens). His bases-loaded two-run double off of Jason Marquis on a 3-0 count in Game Four of the 2004 World Series increased the Sox lead in that clinching game from 1-0 to 3-0 as the Curse was finally broken.

The future in right field now belongs to a man who is a mere year-and-a-half younger, but who is just as injury prone as his predecessor. I can see the Sox looking at a guy who has missed as much time as he has, and think that, as he enters his mid-30s, he might not get less injury prone. But why throw him aside and replace him with a guy who is not only just as likely to get hurt (or still be hurt), but whose attitude makes Manny Ramirez look like Ryan Freel?

Anyway, good luck to you Trot. You and your filthy hat always gave it your best!

Full Story

No comments: