Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career

Pablo Sandoval was probably pretty disappointed when he found out he was going to need season-ending shoulder surgery. Nobody wants to be told they’re done for the year when it’s only just begun. If there’s a silver lining, however, it’s that surgery could save Sandoval’s career.

Let’s face it; 2016 was shaping up to be another lost season for Boston’s maligned third basemanSurgery Could Save Sandoval's Career. Coming off the worst year of his career, he arrived at spring training overweight (again), failed to bat said weight and wound up losing his starting job to a player making $17 million less than him. Sandoval rode the pine in April, appearing in just three games as Shaw and the Red Sox got off to torrid starts.

Sandoval was stuck. His team had little use for him while his contract and recent performance made him untradeable. So he wasted away on the bench, watching Shaw’s success systematically destroy whatever shot he had at redemption in 2016.

Now, with Sandoval out for the rest of the year, he’ll have to wait until 2017 to get back in Boston’s good graces. That gives him loads of time to get in the best shape of his life and prove he’s serious about his conditioning. It also gives him time to fix whatever broke in his swing last year and work on his defense.

Sandoval has nothing but time. The question is: will he use it effectively?

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career, or Finish it

A year off could do Sandoval wonders. It certainly did for John Lackey, another West Coast star who initially struggled upon signing a big contract with the Red Sox. After pitching at a historically awful level in 2011, Lackey missed all of ’12 recovering from Tommy John surgery. It was a turning point in his career, as a slimmed-down Lackey returned to form in 2013 and is still going strong as he enters his late 30s.

Surgery could save Sandoval’s career, too..It’s not hard to imagine him having a similar renaissance next year, given that he’ll only be 30. He’ll also be extra motivated to win his job back after everything that’s happened this spring.

On the other hand, going under the knife may only hasten Sandoval’s decline. Adrian Gonzalez fell off significantly as a hitter following the same procedure, which doesn’t bode well for Sandoval. He may also find that taking a whole year off severely disrupts his timing, which could prevent him from having the kind of start he needs to secure regular playing time again.

How the rest of Sandoval’s career plays out will likely be decided by what he does over the next calendar year. If he buckles down and sheds some pounds, he may yet find his way back into Boston’s lineup. But if he sits around and lets his skills continue to erode, he better get used to watching Travis Shaw at the hot corner.

Red Sox First Half Report Card By Position: Third Base

Red Sox First Half

The Red Sox first half saw five starters at third base, so needless to say, things haven’t gone as planned. Will Middlebrooks, aka Mr. Jenny Dell, is hopefully returning from his second DL trip soon. Meanwhile, Xander Bogaerts is begrudgingly holding down the fort after getting booted from shortstop by Stephen Drew. Brock Holt has also seen a bulk of starts at the hot corner in his tour of the field, while Jonathan Herrera and Ryan Roberts have seen eight and seven starts respectively.

Middlebrooks had a great spring training, which was a good sign after a poor postseason last year. However, just a week into the season, the injuries began to come and he still hasn’t settled into the season. After breaking his finger exactly two months ago, Middlebrooks suffered one setback from swelling of the finger and more recently, another setback by straining his wrist sliding into a base. At this point, his trade value is much lower than it should be and the Sox would be getting pennies on the dollar for him. WMB was the only bright spot on Bobby Valentine’s failing 2012 Red Sox, so maybe he can add some hope to a subpar 2014 Red Sox team if he can return soon.

The fill-ins, Herrera and Roberts, really played as you would expect them to. Well, actually a bit worse than that. While at third, Herrera was 3-24 with one RBI and Roberts was 2-18 with zero RBI. Combine those numbers and you have a .119 average; both committed one error in the field.

Brock Holt was seen last year during Middlebrook’s demotion, where he split time at third with Brandon Snyder. Holt hit .203 with only two extra base hits in 26 games and was an after thought at the beginning of this season. However, since nobody else could get the job done, Holt was called upon and has been the best hitter on the team. Holt has seen most of his starts this year at third and has been the team’s best defensive option at that position, but he has been able to hit consistently at every position he’s played. Capping off the first half with a five hit performance on Sunday, Holt pushed his average up to .327 and found himself just two behind David Ortiz for second most hits on the team, despite playing in about 30 less games. Holt will continue to get some spot starts at third, but that’s pretty much the case at every position.

Xander Bogaerts took over at third base in the postseason and showed great poise and potential. However, once he shifted over this year, something went wrong. At shortstop, he was hitting, drawing walks, and was maybe the team’s most consistent hitter. His defense wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as terrible as his defense at third has been. He’s barely held his fielding percentage over .900 and his OPS while playing at third has been under half of what it was while at short. HALF! OPS is a number that should never be cut in half, but for Bogaerts it was .816 at shortstop and is .406 at 3B. Hmmm, .406 was also Ted Williams’ batting average in 1941. Hopefully, Bogaerts collected himself over the All-Star break and will be hitting like he was before Stephen Drew joined the team.

Will Middlebrooks- Grade: D-

Roberts and Herrera- Grade: F

Holt- Grade: A

Bogaerts (As 3B)- Grade: F