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When Dustin Pedroia, fresh off his 3-home run game against the Colorado Rockies, went down with a broken foot, things looked pretty bleak for he Red Sox middle infield. Jed Lowrie was still recovering from mono and without any prospects ready to help out the major league team, the Red Sox turned to Bill Hall.
The former Mariner and Brewer was acquired in the offseason for Casey Kotchman, the Red Sox other spare first baseman besides Mike Lowell. In a rare move for a rich team like the Sox, Hall was acquired with a bag of cash: $7.15 million of the $8.4 million Hall is owed for 2010 is being paid by the Milwaukee Brewers. But, something strange happened: the guy being paid for by another team actually did a decent job wearing the impossibly large shoes of the MVP winning Pedroia.
In 2006, the future for Bill Hall looked bright. He was coming off a year that saw him hit .291/.345/.495/.837 with 17 home runs at age 25. He even added 18 steals to his game. Not bad for a middle infielder. If Hall felt like a legit major leaguer then nothing could prepare him for 2006: .270/.345/.553/.899 and a whopping 35 long balls. If the accepted prime years of a baseball player begin at 27, Hall was all but guaranteed to improve further, or at least continue to perform as he had. The smaller market Brewers jumped on the chance to lock up their emerging star, signing Hall to a back-loaded four-year $24 million contract.
Sadly Hall’s career began to look more like that of Kenny Powers. The prodigious power fell by more than half, back-to-back 12 and 18 season totals in steals fell to 8, then 4, then 5, then 2. Hall, was moved around the infield and outfield to accommodate other players and when the Brewers couldn’t maneuver their roster to await his bounce back any further, they shipped him off to Seattle.
It was with little fanfare that the Red Sox traded Casey Kotchman for Bill Hall in January. They were similar players, both touted and recipients of some major league success and both seemingly washed up before they really ever got going. On June 26th when Pedroia went down, Hall was hitting .226/.329/.395/.724 with 5 home runs. Hall hit an additional 10 home runs and 21 RBI and raised his season line to .246/.319/.468/.787 – down from his peak but sorely needed by a team devastated by injuries.
With a 2011 club option worth $9.25 million, versus a $500k buyout, Bill Hall will likely leave the Red Sox after the season in search of a starting job, but he’s given them far more than the team could have expected this year.