07/12/08 10:09 PM ET
Garciaparra a short-term answer
Veteran bats leadoff at shortstop; clubs looks for acquisition
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
It was the first time Garciaparra had led off a game since 2002, but it's not an indication that Torre views the six-time All-Star as a second-half solution for injured Rafael Furcal's shortstop or leadoff roles, leaving the door wide open for a trade before the deadline at the end of the month.
"We've got to think about getting help with the history of Nomar and injuries," Torre said. "If we do get a shortstop, we know Nomar can play there, at first and at third. If he swings the bat, we'll find a spot for him."
Garciaparra has missed 76 of the club's 94 games this year because of a broken right hand and pulled left calf muscle. His durability has management reluctant to give him the full-time job, making an acquisition a high priority.
"It's certainly possible," Torre said of a deal. "When teams know you need to trade, there are no half-priced sales going. Ned [general manager Ned Colletti] is not sitting on his hands, but he's not jumping either.
"The decision we have to weigh to get a player that will make us a lot better and what price tag it will have. You don't want to mortgage the future, we're all in agreement with that. Figuring who you have to give up may be easier to replace later on as opposed to not doing anything."
Among the eligible players rumored to be available are Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson, Toronto's David Eckstein and Detroit's Edgar Renteria. Chairman Frank McCourt recently indicated the club is more willing to move certain young players than in the past.
Torre's comments indicate the club also could deal from strength, moving a starting pitcher like Derek Lowe, who will be a free agent after the season anyway. He could be replaced in the rotation by 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw. Torre also left open the possibility of Kershaw being promoted to bump Chan Ho Park or Eric Stults from the rotation.
"We're still talking about that," he said, referring specifically to promoting Kershaw from Double-A. "We have to figure it out. We have to look at what we want to do. We'll decide in the next few days if we want to make a change or not. His name will come up."
As for Garciaparra, Torre said he was looking for a way to spur the offense over the final two days of the first half.
"We'll sacrifice speed for someone that gives us some quality at-bats," Torre said about Garciaparra. "We need to get something started. I remember how he was locked in as a rookie [in 1997], 97 or 96 RBIs, of course that was the American League where the pitcher doesn't hit. He's not the prototypical leadoff hitter. He's aggressive, he's not going up there walking. But that puts pressure on the pitcher."
Matt Kemp has hit in the leadoff spot in 11 of the 12 games since Juan Pierre was injured. He's batted .255 with six runs, one homer, four steals, six walks and 20 strikeouts in 47 at-bats.
"His on-base percentage [.340 leading off] is fine. I don't think Matt does anything different [compared to batting elsewhere in the lineup]," said Torre. "Sometimes he has quality at-bats, sometimes he gets impatient. He did some good things. I just feel we need a little more offense and quality at-bats on top. We'll see what it looks like."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.