What happened to the sweet April surprise? What happened to the timely hitting and the shutdown pitching? What happened to the early inning offensives that put the opposition back on its heels? What happened to the impregnable infield?
In the words of the Obamanator, “That’s above my pay grade.”
Still I’d love to float a theory like everyone else in my pay grade. In a crisp soundbite I say: Bring back Iglesias! This is not so much a solution as a strategy. Here’s the reasoning.
The infield was impregnable in April, because Iglesias covered most of the left side and made an extra out every game. But he was worth more than the out, he brought confidence to the whole infield, so that they played an error-less month.
Stephen Drew is just hitting his stride, so move him to third. Middlebrooks is still not hitting his, so send him for a stretch in Pawtucket. With two shortstops on the left side, you have a impermeable infield.
However, this arrangement will not be permanent, because Drew will get hurt again, probably in the next four weeks. The Red Sox should know this, because they have previously waded in the Drew gene pool. Injuries are inevitable in this family. So Middlebrooks should not get comfortable in Pawtucket.
Let’s get the lead man on. Keep a consistent bat in the lead off spot. Ellsbury is not getting on base enough, so he should probably be batting fifth or sixth. Victorino and Nava have shown the best aptitude for getting on, so give them each an audition. Pedroia goes back to batting second, then Ortiz and Napoli. The rest of the line-up can be adapted for the opposing pitcher.
There’s enough here to shake up the line-up. The rest is patience and keeping a positive attitude. The veterans on the team know where these come from.
The pitching will continue to be the strength of this team, even with the injuries. Just give Allen Webster a big league chance, and he’ll fill a spot in the rotation.
There’s a little Sox Sanity for ya and way above my pay grade.
Some really short-sighted advice on Jackie Bradley: keep him and start him. We need hitters.
With so much speculation about Bradley’s need for experience and what the future salary implications will be, I thought it was time for some here-and-now thinking. Who in this line-up is currently hitting consistently? Ortiz? Pedroia? Ellsbury? Middlebrooks? Not so much. But Bradley? Oh yeah.
In a week, someone will need to get on base and score runs. Who has been doing that this spring? Bradley. The Sox will need some potent left-handed batters. Anyone answering that description in camp this spring? Oh yeah, Bradley!
We know this is a re-building year, so why not bring up players with a future with the Sox? Why not play the hot hand? Maybe he won’t be ready, but then someone has to move once Ortiz comes off the disabled list. That would be the moment of truth for Jackie Bradley. By then he will be indispensable or a work in progress.
Last spring I made the same plea for my favorite underdog: Pedro Ciriaco. The Sox waited till mid-season to bring him up, and he instantly delivered. He hit, he ran, he played the whole infield. Why didn’t that merit coming up in April with the major league team? I can tell you why. There was this veteran free agent infielder, who seemed like a sure thing. He was gone in July.
The Red Sox treat rookies like vintage wine. They will play no prospect before his time. I don’t subscribe to the vintner theory of developing ball players. You should play them to see if it is time. Middlebrooks was not thought to be ready for the big leagues. Then they had to play him to replace Youkilis at third. Whaddya know? The guy could hit!
With the hitters sputtering out of the gate, the Red Sox will need speed, defense and pitching to win games in April. Bradley can supply two of those and who knows? Maybe the guy can hit! Let’s find out if it is his time.