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.

Travis Shaw Close to Being Best at Third Base

Coming into the 2016 season, Travis Shaw was the fan favorite for the starting third base job. The reason for this was because Pablo Sandoval came in overweight, showing a lack of commitment in the off-season. Since winning the third base job after a strong spring, Shaw has looked strong and Sandoval is now out for the season due to a shoulder injury, resulting in Shaw having the job sealed. Shaw has been very successful offensively atTravis Shaw home and has done a better job defensively than expected at the hot corner.

Since debuting last season at the big league level, Shaw has been one of the best hitters at Fenway Park. Last season, he hit a cool .329 at home in 119 at bats. This season, the success has continued, hitting at a .387 clip in 62 at bats. Shaw has shown the ability to spray the ball to all fields and looks like a guy who is here to stay.

Shaw has been playing corner infield positions throughout his life, spending time at both first base and third base. However, he has spent less time at third base, only having five starts there last season. Coming into this season, Shaw’s defense was something to watch. With 4 errors on the season through 28 starts, the numbers do not help Shaw’s case. Sometimes numbers are deceiving and in this case they are. He has showed good range and good decision making thus far and as long as he continues hitting, the defense will be an afterthought. With the offense clicking and the better than expected defense, Shaw seems to have it all figured out right?

The answer to that is no. While Shaw has impressed me and made Sandoval an afterthought, he still has areas of his game to work on. On offense, Shaw has to show that he can hit on the road and hit lefties. He has crushed right-handers to a .376 clip but has only hit .143 against lefties. Both of these can be fixed and Shaw should be able to do just that. Last season he hit lefties better than righties. He had a .329 average against lefties last season compared to a .243 against righties. On defense, he just needs more starts and to continue adjusting to the other side of the diamond. He is not a defensive liability but he also is below average this season regarding third base defense, ranking 22nd in baseball in defensive fielding percentage.

Shaw has been a pleasant surprise and the potential is there to be even better, scary for opposing teams. If he figures out left-handers again and improves his play on the road, Shaw is on track to being an elite offensive third baseman in baseball.

Middlebrooks Heads for Disabled List

middlebrooks  on the DL

As if the Red Sox weren’t already having enough problems scoring runs, the problem just got worse with this morning’s news that third baseman Will Middlebrooks was placed on the 15 day Disabled List.

An MRI taken of Middlebrooks’ right calf this morning revealed a Grade 1 calf strain, the least serious strain one can have, but nonetheless the Sox decided not to push the slugging third baseman this early in the season. Middlebrooks joins teammate Shane Victorino on the DL.

This loss will severely test the weakened Sox offense. Middlebrooks place on the roster, and likely most of his time at third, will be taken over by infielder Brock Holt, called up from Pawtucket. Holt is an OK utility player, but by no means has Middlebrooks’ thump at the plate.

Both Middlebrooks and Victorino are expected back around April 22 barring complications. With Holt and Jonathan Herrera sharing time at third, the terribly slumping Daniel Nava playing every day, Jackie Bradley playing about half the time, and weak bats behind the plate, the Sox lineup has holes in it up and down.

The timely hitting that marked 2013 has been notably missing in the 5 games to-date. It is far too early to draw long-term conclusions, but the appearance of some booming bats would be welcomed.