Travis Shaw Trade Comes Back To Haunt Sox

The Red Sox are kicking themselves right now. They can’t get out of third place. They’ve struggled to find a consistent third baseman for the last few seasons. For a while, fans and management alike thought they’d finally found him in Travis Shaw. Shaw, a 9th round pick Travis Shaw Tradein the 2011 MLB Draft, excited Red Sox Nation with his home runs in 2015. Unfortunately for Shaw, his slumping 2016 season led the Red Sox to trade him to the Milwaukee Brewers. Now, as the Red Sox battle the Brewers at Miller Stadium, the Travis Shaw trade is coming back to haunt them.

Shaw was a little more than surprised when Boston traded him away. After all, the Red Sox touted him as one of the up-and-coming greats. Fans saw his face on t-shirts and magazines. But his .187 batting average against lefties last season quickly became a liability. His 16 errors in 105 games didn’t help his case either. But despite his numbers, Shaw fit in well with his teammates, with whom he remains on good terms.

Shaw’s happy where he is, but he wants to show Boston what they’re missing. “I want to win the trade,” Shaw was quoted as saying in the Portland Press Herald. “I want to make Milwaukee look way better than Boston looks for trading me. As a competitor, everybody would say the same thing. The guy you get traded for, you want to do better than him.”

The Travis Shaw Trade Is The Red Sox Latest Embarrassment

Shaw is having his best season so far in the majors. He’s hitting above .270 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs. Meanwhile, Tyler Thornburg, the pitcher the Red Sox got in exchange for Shaw, has yet to pitch this season. Injuries continue to plague the Red Sox in ways that not only hold them back, but throws their consistency completely out of whack. They’re struggling to get a foot hold on the season but one injury after another keeps them back.

The Travis Shaw trade hasn’t panned out for the Red Sox. If they can take anything away from this experience, it’s that they shouldn’t be so quick to trade away potential stars until they’ve had a few seasons to show their worth.

Boggs Was One of Boston’s Best

More than two decades after playing his last game for the Boston Red Sox, Wade Boggs had his number retired at Fenway Park last night. The ceremony felt long overdue, as Boggs was one of Boston’s best hitters in franchise history.

Boggs Was One of Boston’s Best…

Fans and media tend to overrate hitters who drive runs while underrating those who score themBoggs Was One of Boston's Best. He was destined to be under-appreciated, then, for Boggs was one of Boston’s best table-setters, an on-base machine who often put himself in scoring position via doubles (he clubbed 578 for his career). Batting in front of prolific RBI men such as Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, Boggs averaged 100 runs scored per 162 games and twice led the majors.

Everyone knew Boggs was a tremendous hitter, but few understood his true worth as a ballplayer. His gaudy OBPs and plus defense at the hot corner (which wasn’t recognized until later, when he won back-to-back Gold Gloves in his late 30s) made him incredibly valuable. Baseball-Reference defines an MVP-caliber season as one where a player accrues at least eight wins above replacement, which Boggs did every year from 1985 to 1989, yet never finished higher than fourth in MVP voting. Moneyball was still two decades away, and nobody had WAR to tell them he was the American League’s top position player in 1986, 1987, and 1988.

That might not have been the case had he played elsewhere, however. He was helped immensely by Fenway Park, whose Green Monster allowed him to wait back on pitches until the last possible second, at which point he would flick his wrists and stroke another double or single off the wall in left. Nobody did this better than Boggs, who holds the highest Fenway average of all-time at .369. He was most proficient at this before the EMC Club–then called the 600 Club—was erected in 1989, altering the wind currents within the park and making it much less favorable for hitters. It’s no coincidence that Boggs never won another batting title after 1988.

…And Baseball’s Best

Age and the 600 Club caused Boggs to tail off a bit in the early ’90s, but his final year in Boston—1992—was the worst of his career. He slumped to .259/.353/.358 as the Sox sunk to last place. His contract was up and Lou Gorman, Boston’s general manager at the time, let the 34-year-old walk, even though he was just one year removed from a .332/.421/.460 campaign worth 6.4 bWAR.

That proved to be a terrible mistake, as Boggs found a second wind with Boston’s arch-rivals, the New York Yankees. Boggs batted .313/.396/.407 in his five years in pinstripes, making four All-Star teams and helping the Bombers to a championship in 1996—10 years after his previous World Series bid ended in agony. Following his New York stint he returned home to finish out his playing days in Tampa Bay, where he ended his career on a high note by batting .301 and notching his 3,000th hit on his 118th, and final, home run.

Boggs retired in 1999 as one of the five best third basemen in baseball history. His .328 lifetime average is the second-highest of anyone who debuted after World War II, while his .415 OBP ranks fifth among players who have debuted since 1945 and appeared in at least 2,000 games. He was an eight-time Silver Slugger winner, a five-time batting champion, and an All-Star every year from 1985 to 1996. His most impressive accomplishment, however, was batting .401 over a 162-game span from June 9th, 1985 to June 6th, 1986.

Boggs was one of Boston’s best hitters—perhaps second only to Ted Williams—and top third baseman. It’s a good thing he was finally recognized for it.

Is Health a Concern for Pablo Sandoval?

pablo sandoval

A picture is worth 1,000 words and this picture of Pablo Sandoval confirms that theory. Looking at the picture, Sandoval went a little heavy on the sweets this off-season— from the looks of that gut.
nike zoom lebron 5 low
Health has always been a concern for the Kung Fu Panda and has often lured teams away from the third baseman. Listed at 5-foot-11 245 pounds, Sandoval looks more like apablo sandoval high school football offensive lineman than he does the starting third baseman for the Boston Red Sox.

There is no doubt that Sandoval can play the game, but being in tiptop shape is one of the requirements for big time athletes. Boston invested $95 million in Sandoval for five years of his services and right now, he does not look to be in shape for the season— let alone five years from now.
air jordan backpacks
A switch hitter, Sandoval has yet to touch upon his weight issues, but instead he is looking to improve his splits. Hitting just .199 with an abysmal .244 OBP off lefties last season, Sandoval looks to improve his bat from the right side of the plate. As a lefty on the other hand, Sandoval dominates right-handed pitching and hit ..317 with a .363 on-base percentage last year.

If Sandoval is not in shape, or if he fails to hit lefties, Brock Holt is always an option to make a few appearances. In 208 at-bats against lefties, the super utility man is a .282 hitter with a .332 OBP, making him a viable option even if Sandoval does improve against lefties. Together the two could definitely make an impressive platoon at the position and although fans hate to hear the word “platoon” used with big name players, it might just be the Red Sox best bet.
nike air zoom generation
Of course one way Sandoval could avoid his struggles as a right-handed hitter is to avoid the problem. Perhaps if he abandons hitting from the right side entirely, he could see his splits improve.

Should Garin Cecchini Man The Hot Corner In 2015?

cheechWith inconsistency at third base, the Boston Red Sox may want to explore some other options at the position. Combining the struggles of Will Middlebrooks all throughout the year due to injury and Brock Holt in the second half, there is no one definite answer. Perhaps signing Pablo Sandoval may do Boston some good, but he is appealing to a number of teams and is by no means cheap.

A top prospect in the organization, perhaps Garin Cecchini could help fill the void at third. Certainly, he is an option. In 11 games for Boston, he clipped .258/.361/.452 with three doubles and a home run.
kobe nike shoe
He looked comfortable at third, committing just one error in his big league tenure while providing versatility with his ability to play the outfield.

A major plus for Cecchini comes from his splits. Sure he struggles against left-handed pitching, but he can hit righties without a problem. Slashing .272/.356/.376 during his tenure in Pawtucket while facing north paws, he made it clear he is ready for the next level on that side of the plate in conjunction with the fact that he hit .333 in 96 at-bats for the Paw Sox in August.
kobe nike sneakers
When it comes to Cecchini’s game, it may appear as though he lacks power however, this is not the case. Sure he may not be a David Ortiz who smashes 30 bombs with ease, but he provides the right amount.

Standing tall at 6 ft. 3 and weighing in at 220 lbs, he managed to pop eight home runs between Boston and Pawtucket while adding 24 doubles and a triple. He is the type of guy who very well could hit double digit home runs (12-15), providing his team with serious gap power.
lebron james nike shoe
The only reason why Cecchini would not be an option in the big leagues is a lack of experience. Amassing just 407 at-bats in Pawtucket, some may consider that rushing him to the top level. Instead, perhaps, he should see upwards of 750 at-bats in AAA before he is brought into such a high-pressure environment.

Also, maybe the .356 OBP versus right-handed pitching is not high enough. Maybe he needs a .400 OBP with a .900 OPS before earns his right to be there.
air max
Cecchini, who was considered a first round talent back in 2010, fell to the fourth round because he tore his ACL as a senior in high school. That is why he did not start his pro career until 2011. His brother Gavin was a first round pick by the New York Mets in 2012.

How Does Will Middlebrooks Fit In?

Will MiddlebrooksWith Will Middlebrooks set to return to the Boston Red Sox soon, it leaves John Farrell with some serious questions. One of those pressing questions is pertinent to Middlebrooks’ playing time and how Boston implements him when he finishes his rehab assignment.

Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reported earlier in the week that Boston is entertaining the idea of playing the career third basemen in the outfield in an effort to give him more at-bats. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time Boston has toyed with playing Middlebrooks in the outfield. Back in 2012 when he made a Brock Holt-esque emergence, Bobby Valentine pondered shifting Middlebrooks to the outfield due to Kevin Youkilis’ presence. But instead, they decided it was not beneficial for Will, because they believed it may compromise the — at that juncture — third basemen of the future’s career.

The outfield was a mess for a good portion of the year. However, Daniel Nava is hot and will be hitting against right-handed pitchers until he cools down, Shane Victorino is close to coming back, and Brock Holt is……well, Brock Holt. Really, there’s no room for Middlebrooks in the outfield pending an unforeseen injury. Even then, the Red Sox have Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jonny Gomes, whom they’ll start over Middlebrooks in the outfield in a heartbeat. So this begs the question: where does Will Middlebrooks fit in? He’ll obviously be an excellent pinch-hit power-bat — regardless if he finds kind of, sort of regular playing time. However, there is an evident role for “WMB” to slide into upon his return. And that is playing third base when a southpaw is on the hill.

There are two, maybe three, benefits in doing so.

To start, Stephen Drew is horrendous against left-handed pitching while Middlebrooks is the clear superior in that regard. Farrell can ride the platoon and maximize lineup efficiency. Next, this allows Xander Bogaerts to see time at shortstop, which is the position he wants to and is expected to play in Boston for a long time. He can grow more acclimated to the nuances of the major-league shortstop position, instead of repeating the same struggles he confronted at the position in the beginning of the year. Do you really anticipate Bogaerts to be able to play short well with almost a year reprieve from it?

Finally, this gives Boston a chance to work Middlebrooks into the lineup, although I’m not sure if that is necessarily a good thing. He’s really scuffled the past year and a half after a rookie year of dominance. It’s uncertain whether or not he will help or hurt Boston if he is to see moderate playing time. The following scenario of starting Middlebrooks against lefties can, and probably will come to fruition. Ultimately, though, the effectiveness of this decision will be determined by Middlebrooks’ play.

Middlebrooks: Does Will have the way?

Middlebrooks

Most scouts and Red Sox development folks must believe that Will Middlebrooks has tons of talent and can be a fine major league hitter and a mainstay in the Red Sox lineup for many years. However, after a potential-laden first two years with the Sox, some disbelievers must be about. Why would we have tendered Stephen Drew (at $14M) in the offseason if the plan wasn’t to put him back at shortstop and move Xander Boegarts back to Middlebrooks’ spot at third? I am still bullish though. He, more than any other player, has the ability to take a major stride forward in 2014. And he needs to.

Middlebrooks first made his debut with the Red Sox in 2012 and his power hitting skills ultimately chased Kevin Youkilis out of town. In only 254 at-bats over the year, Middlebrooks hit .288, blasted 15 homers and had 54 RBIs; double those numbers for a full-season representation. A nice way to break in and optimism reigned throughout Red Sox Nation. The starting third baseman as 2013 began, Middlebrook’s production declined even if the power didn’t. The Sox sent him back to Pawtucket to get it right, and then recalled him in August. Over the course of the entire season, encompassing 94 games and 374 at-bats, Middlebrooks’ average plummeted to .227, even while his homers increased to 17 long balls. He’s never going to be Brooks Robinson at third base but disappointingly, his play there was mediocre at best over both years. But let’s face it, it’s his bat that he’s here for.

What are we to make of all this? I am still a Middlebrooks believer. Sophomore slumps are common. I prefer to point out to folks that over the course of only his first 615 major league at-bats–Middlebrooks has crushed 32 homers. Not too dusty! In fact, in today’s pitching dominated game with decreasing offense, that’s downright gaudy.

Please take a second to review last year’s lineup—top to bottom. Who do think can/will improve on his 2013 numbers this year? Ellsbury? Oh no wait. He’s gone. Maybe Pedroia will regain his power if his thumb is completely healed. Papi, Victorino, Napoli, Nava, Gomes? I doubt it. The now departed Salty vs. AJ behind the plate? A wash. Who knows about Bogaerts? I sure hope he’s better than Drew, but do we know? Can Sizemore/Bradley Jr. approach what Ellsbury provided in offensive punch? Unlikely.

Of everybody, Middlebrooks is most likely to show major improvement, and his ability to do that is hugely critical to the 2014 Sox. We simply need him to hit—a lot.

If he doesn’t, what recourse do we have? Move Bogaerts to third and play Jonathan Herrera at short? Ugggh. Who else on the active roster can even play third? Nobody is the answer. We do have a terrific third base prospect in Garin Cecchini, but he’s only 22, split last year between A and AA ball and it’s just too early.

The Sox pitching will carry them in 2014, but if the offense is to be of pennant-winning caliber, Will Middlebrooks needs to play a big role. I say he will.