Expensive Window Dressing is Still Window Dressing
The title sums up up my feelings on the matter. Yeah, this is a shining example to fans that Dolan will spend his money when warranted. But is this move really warranted? This is certainly not a move to help the Indians this year; Boone won't be healthy until the end of July, and even if healthy, is he going to make much of a difference? He's a quite average offensive third baseman (career .270/.327/.453), which Casey Blake has been for virtually the minimum this year. When he comes back, I would assume Blake moves over to first base to make room for Boone. So if you're looking for a comparison, that should be from Blake to Broussard, who will be sitting on the bench or in Buffalo when Boone gets here.
Yes, that's definitely an upgrade. But this is still assuming Boone is going to come back after missing not playing for almost 10 months and hit his career average. That's probably not happening. So under what circumstances is this move a good one? I can't really think of one. Even though Ronnie Belliard is signed to a one-year contract, he still hasn't accrued enough service time to become a free agent. So if the Indians want him back next year, he'll be back. Although Boone might be a marginal upgrade at second over Belliard, the difference between his cost and Belliard's cost will cancel that out. And need I even examine any comparison between Boone and Blake? Blake won't even be eligible for arbitration next year by my calculations, so Blake will continue to be a bargain in 2005 as well.
No monetary aspects have been released as to Boone's contract, but the fact that the Indians have supposedly outbid several teams doesn't make the contract look like the $1M type of deal.
So what the heck do the Indians do with Boone? Blake doesn't really hit enough to be a competent first baseman, so that might mean some kind of bizarre three-way platoon between Boone, Blake, and Belliard if all three stick around next year. All three are right-handed, although Blake and especially Boone have better success against right-handers, and Belliard has built his career on mashing southpaws.
Please don't get me wrong about Boone's ability; he's a pretty average third baseman, and a pretty decent second baseman. But when you already have both on your team for relatively cheap contracts, Boone becomes nothing more than expensive window dressing. I'll see how exactly Boone will be used when he joins the team in about a month, but my initial reaction to this signing is one of puzzlement.