The Red Sox signing of Brad Wilkerson to a minor league contract could end up being a wise and helpful move at some point this season.
A left-handed hitter, the 31-year-old right fielder has displayed power in the past, totaling 122 career homers. He hit exactly 20 homers in two seasons, and 19 in another. Yet his finest year was 2004, when he totaled 32 homers, 146 hits, 106 walks, 39 doubles, scored 112 runs, and posted an .872 OPS.
Wilkerson appeared to be a rising star, but he never fully lived up to the promise he displayed in '04.
He spent his first four seasons in Montreal '(01-'04) and remained with the organization when they moved to Washington in '05. His next two seasons were spent with Texas, and last year was split between Seattle and Toronto. All of that movement showed that while teams had high hopes, they were never fully realized.
The problem is that Wilkerson simply isn't a great hitter, as evidenced by his career .247 average and .350 OBP. For six consecutive seasons Wilkerson struck out at least 100 times, surpassing 150 three consecutive times.
However, he is still young enough to recapture some of the magic he possessed early in his career; he was named Rookie of the Year in 2002, after hitting 20 homers and scoring 92 runs. What's more, he has also twice hit for the cycle (2003 and 2005).
As recently as 2005, the Sox latest addition notched 42 doubles, and just two years ago he smacked 20 home runs . Wilkerson is a line drive hitter who could fare well at Fenway Park. Defensively, he has shown great versatility, playing 233 career games at first base, and many more at center.
The Red Sox have health questions with numerous players, including Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, and Rocco Baldelli. And then there's the always fragile JD Drew, who could seemingly go on the DL at any time.
Wilkerson's versatility will give the Red Sox additional veteran depth, which could prove quite valuable down the road this season.