Gerrardo Parra did nothing to lose his job last year. Despite a Gold Glove award complimented by a solid season at the plate, the D-Backs still went out and got a new starting left fielder and have rejected offers from other teams for Parra.
Jason Kubel had a successful career in Minnesota but always played 4th fiddle in the Twins lineup behind Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. A solid slugger with average defensive skills, Kubel is nothing like Parra as a player, leading us to believe that the D-Backs were simply looking for more power in the lineup when they made a move for him. However, Kubel hasn’t exactly fitting into the D-Backs lineup just yet. Despite going 4 for 12 with 2 RBI the last three games, he’s still hitting just .208 with no home runs and 2 RBI through 24 at-bats. While it’s extremely early, an extended slump by Kubel would raise even more questions behind the logic to bring him in to start over Parra.
For there to be any justification for the move, Kubel will need to hit 20-25 home runs and knock in 80 runs while hitting .270-.280, all numbers that he is capable of doing but hasn’t shown in his abbreviated tenure as a D-Back. Kubel simply doesn’t match-up with Parra defensively to justify playing time if he’s not hitting. Additionally, Parra is a pesk on the basepaths and is perpetually capable of stealing a base. The plodding Kubel is not.
Parra is an absolute luxury for Kirk Gibson to have. Unquestioned, one of the best 4th outfielders in baseball. He can fill in admirably at any outfield position and is realistically the only player capable of subbing for centerfielder Chris Young. However, if Kubel doesn’t show the production he once had Parra will no longer be a luxury, but a necessity once again.