Although it’s been a rare occurrence over the last couple years, Red Sox management has used common sense and finally begun to address the glaring issue that is Pablo Sandoval.
Despite Travis Shaw being the obvious choice to start at third base over Panda just by using the simple eye test last year and this Spring, there was always the fear that the Sox would try to cater to their $95 million third baseman by giving him far too many chances to prove his worth. I have to say, I wasn’t convinced that they had the guts to swallow their pride and admit they screwed up.
Thankfully, they did. Nothing says “we made a mistake” like benching a player with $72.4 million remaining in his contract in favor of a guy who’s never played a full season in the big leagues. That’s what John Farrell did, announcing Thursday that Shaw would be taking the field at third on opening day.
I know it’s just a simple roster change, but this could potentially be a huge step in the right direction for the Red Sox as an organization. With just a few days remaining before the regular season begins, it sends a message that laziness and underachievement will not be tolerated.
It also shows a sense of urgency that has been lacking in recent years. There’s no time to let guys try to figure things out on the off-chance that they might get hot by the All-Star break. If you want to win right now, you bench the guys that suck and start the guys who can play. In this case, if you show up to Spring Training fat and out of shape and the guy who is potentially your replacement is absolutely raking at the plate and not committing any errors, then you’re riding the pine.
Shaw has hit .339 in the Grapefruit League this year compared to Pablo’s .233, but according to Farrell the deciding factor in the switch was defense:
“The more we exposed Travis to third base, the defense became really a decision factor,” Farrell said. “In this case, you have to compare one-on-one. There’s better overall range, and Pablo’s well aware of this.”
Sandoval reacted to the news of his benching the only way that he could have, saying that it was the right decision for the team at this time:
“It’s the right decision to help the team win,” said Sandoval, who has started at least 100 games at third base in seven consecutive seasons. “It’s going to be difficult, but I have to be happy. [Shaw] has had a fantastic spring. I’ll just focus on working hard.”
If we’re being honest, I’d be surprised if Pablo Sandoval ever has a role as any everyday player in Boston again. Much like the Rusney Castillo situation, this is just more money down the drain for the Sox. But if we’re looking at the positives, at least they’re cutting their losses and moving on for the betterment of the team.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour
Photo via baseballessential.com