It seems to me that lately I’ve been getting the feeling that it’s 2005 all over again. That season, the Sox seemed to forger that one of the key ingredients to their championship run from the year before was defense. I feel it happening again. In 2005, they let the slick fielding Orlando Cabrera–brought in as part of a multi-team deal that saw the beloved Nomar leave town– walk in favor of Cardinals’ free agent Edgar Renteria. This time they essentially let the defensively superior Steven Drew walk to give the inexperienced Xander Bogaerts the opportunity to develop as the shortstop of the future. On paper, both strategies make a certain amount of sense. Unfortunately, the game is not played on paper.
Back in 2005, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, warned that Renteria was more of a small market guy who would not be comfortable on a large market team; and he proved to be a profit of sorts, as Renteria was never comfortable here, lasting only one season before moving on to Atlanta. Although he hit respectable .276, he had but 8HRs and 70 RBI’s, not the power numbers the Sox like in their shortstops. The real issue, however, was that he committed 30 errors, and compiled a fielding percentage of .954. He didn’t help his cause any by complaining about the field on his way out the door. How hard had Boston tried to keep Cabrera, I do not know for sure, nor do I know if the rumors that were floated about his character flaws after his departure were true. In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Cabrera claims to have just followed the money. Whatever the truth, I can say with confidence that that was the beginning of the revolving door at shortstop that has lasted for a decade.
For awhile there, it seemed that Jose Iglesias had been anointed as the heir apparent. He was (is?) the personification of slick fielding, so it looked like it might actually come to pass. Unfortunately, he is also the personification of light hitting, as well as injury prone, so instead he was shipped to Detroit last year in the deal that saw right handed pitcher Jake Peavy come to the Sox from Chicago. In the way of full disclosure, it was my prediction a few years back that the left side of the Sox infield would consist of Iglesias at short, with Bogaerts moving to third, where he played for the Dutch team during the last World Baseball Classic. Of course, that would have made it necessary to move Will Middlebrooks to either another position or another team. My thought was to move him to first, but with Mike Napoli‘s taking over that spot, that wasn’t likely to happen either.
Anyway, that brings us back to 2014, and the fact that I’m still not convinced that Middlebrooks is our third baseman of the future. Most of what I read and hear in the local sports media tends to back that up. Boston is going to have to do something to tighten up their defense, (currently tenth out of fifteen in the AL, with no East team below them), and they are far too taken with the “X-Man’s” bat to let him get away. Their starting pitching has been shaky at times, but it still ranks fifth in the AL with a 3.90 ERA. It strikes me as somewhat ironic, but the best, and likely the easiest, way to strengthen the pitching is to move their 21st out of 28 ranked shortstop, and replace him with someone with range and dependability.
Now if there was just someone out there who would like to earn a cool $14.1 million and could be comfortable playing in a big market city….. Any ideas?…. Anyone?
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
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