March 24, 2016

Big Contract Is No Guarantee Of Playing Time For Sandoval

Who will be the Red Sox's starting third baseman on Opening Day, April 4?

Travis Shaw has been red-hot (.450 average and 1.188 OPS in 14 games) and incumbent Pablo Sandoval - in the second year of his 5/95 contract and coming off a dismal 2015 season - will miss the next few days due to lower back tightness. Manager John Farrell says the final weeks of spring training will be key in seeing who gets the job. And GM Dave Dombrowski said that the size of a player's contract will not be a determining factor in whether he's in the starting lineup.
I think I've traditionally taken that approach. It's funny, Jim Leyland would always say, "A player's big contract would guarantee them one thing, that they had a bigger check to bring home every two weeks. It doesn't guarantee them anything else other than that." Normally, you hope there is a correlation between the two.
Dombrowski noted that both John Henry and Tom Werner agree with this philosophy.

Eduardo Rodriguez will begin the season on the disabled list after suffering a knee injury in late February. Because Henry Owens was optioned to Pawtucket, the fifth spot in the rotation is now between Steven Wright and Roenis Elias.

Reliever Carson Smith also will not be on the Opening Day roster. Smith had an MRI on Tuesday and it was determined that he has a strain of the flexor muscle in his right elbow.

Hanley Ramirez has been impressing people with his play at first base. HR:
Honestly, every time somebody is up there, I want it to be a ground ball. It's unbelievable. Every day is getting better and better and better and better. I feel like everybody is looking at me like, he's going to make a great play right here. That's what I expect from myself. Get ready to dive right here, catch everything.
Two SoSH posts from this week:

I've been able to watch a lot of games this spring, somehow, and from my eyes Hanley has been absolutely fine. He's made some picks, had a few diving plays, a successful pick-off. Everything you could ask. On this ESPN feed right now, Olney gave a little report on how pleased everyone in the organization has been with him. Someone in the booth right now is saying how people he's talked to around the league think he looks shockingly good. ...
The few times I've seen him, including yesterday, he's looked like a regular first baseman, not like a linebacker playing left field. He looked physically out of place all of last year, and now he just looks like any other first baseman. And what I think has been most noticeable to me is that he is engaged - because he has to be. He's excitable when his fielders make a good play ... I think being back in the infield and being needed on every play is going to suit him well. Viva El Hanley!


Jere said...

When I got to the practice fields in Ft. Myers (Feb 26th-ish) the first thing I saw was Pedroia and Hanley doing the drill where there's a grounder between them and Dustin has to make the call whether or not he'll take it and the 1B needs to get to the bag, or if the 1B should go after it and the P will cover. Of course everybody groaned when Hanley booted one, but yeah he definitely seemed like he was learning and figuring shit out. Glad to hear he's made some serious progress. This is a huge let-down for sports radio--potentially one less thing to mock the Red Sox about (in the 1% of time when they're not still droning on about de-fucking-flate-gate 2 seasons later.)

FenFan said...

I'm not buying the idea that Sandoval may get benched in favor of Shaw to begin the season. The only way I see that happening is if Panda's sore back keeps him off the field longer than a few days. This is the media creating a controversy that doesn't exist.

No manager / GM / baseball owner with any smarts would on record and publicly state that they would sit a hot young prospect earning $515K this season in favor of the incumbent who's coming off a less-than-stellar campaign and is set to make $17M-plus this season.

But let's look at the spring stats to date:

Shaw: 15 GP, .415/.497/.651, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO
Panda: 14 GP, .265/.306/.559, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO

Yeah, Shaw's shown some pop in his bat, but Sandoval's not hitting .089, folks, and a dozen-plus games in spring training does not a season make.

For comparison, consider two other players at camp this spring "competing" for a starting position:

P1: 13 GP, .320/.370/.360, 1 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO
P2: 14 GP, .237/.293/.368, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 11 SO(!)

Go with Player 1, right?

Player 1 is Allen Craig and Player 2 is Hanley Ramirez.

Hell, Big Papi is hitting .185/.185/.185 with zero home runs in 11 games. Maybe he should retire a year sooner than planned?

FenFan said...

This is a huge let-down for sports radio -- potentially one less thing to mock the Red Sox about (in the 1% of time when they're not still droning on about de-fucking-flate-gate 2 seasons later).

I should be amazed that Deflategate is still a thing and then I remember that very little surprises me in what the sports media will report.

allan said...

FF: Thanks for doing the stats work I used to do, but don't do anymore!

FenFan said...

FF: Thanks for doing the stats work I used to do, but don't do anymore!

I've learned from the best! ;-)