Every misplay by Middlebrooks or Bogaerts gets him a mention (RLRS Photo).
Barack Obama may be having issues with the Affordable Care Act but the headline refers to the left side of the Sox’ infield. Yesterday was the bad side of the Sox’ decision to not more aggressively pursue Stephen Drew. Will Middlebrooks who had looked good defensively earlier had a terrible day and Xander Bogaerts also struggled a bit defensively (though he hit a truly stunning home run).
The discussion was had on the thread about whether the Sox should still be in on Drew. At this point I suspect that Drew has no interest in being a third baseman. If we assume that he is going to sign a one year deal I think he would MUCH rather stay at short than shift to third base with the knowledge that he will be a free agent next year. Marketing himself as a shortstop is going to be significantly easier and more lucrative if he can play 60-80 games at short this year.
The Sox have made the decision to entrust 2014 to a bunch of kids. Middlebrooks, Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley are all poised to play a key role in the success/failure of this team. No one worth listening to is worried about Bogaerts of course. Bradley is generally viewed as a safe option though Nick Cafardo seems determined to generate a battle between him and Grady Sizemore that I hope is only in Nick’s mind and not borne of discussions with Sox management.
Sticking with struggling young players can pay dividends (RLRS Photo).
Middlebrooks is the dicey one. He has considerably more of a track record than Bogaerts/Bradley so while he is young (just 25) we can identify what we have with more certainty. I would like Drew in a Sox uniform but I think the Sox are best suited long term to giving Middlebrooks a chance to play himself out.
Will Middlebrooks is never going to be a great defensive player. I remain hopeful that he can improve to “competent” but the reports we heard of the minor leaguer who was a good defender seem to be a bill of goods. Offensively there is reason for hope. In a sport that has changed in recent years Middlebrooks has a skill, power, that is considerably more scarce than it was a decade ago.
In for a penny, in for a pound is the phrase at work here. If the Sox are willing to make a commitment to youth seeing what they have in Will Middlebrooks is worthwhile. He was very impressive as a rookie and struggled the year after a significant wrist injury. That is hardly unusual and while I am not especially hopeful that Middlebrooks will be successful I like the process the Sox are employing of committing to youth.
Game related thoughts;
- Christian Vazquez threw out another runner stealing yesterday on the back of a hit and run. This is a situation where any MLB catcher should throw a runner out but the Cardinal radio guys and Cafardo at Boston.com were very impressed with the throw.
- Bryce Brentz also had an assist yesterday. Every day I feel a little more excited about him.
- For the first time the Sox were involved in an instant replay. I was only half listening at that point but as soon as I heard the replay was happening I paid attention and it took less than two minutes from the end of the play to resolution. I still think it can be quicker but this is a good sign.
- Today’s pitchers; Allen Webster, Drake Britton, Alex Wilson and minor league call-ups (Extra Bases)