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The Red Sox are looking for a third base upgrade

May 19, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

Will Middlebrooks AP

Will Middlebrooks is hurt. And, when he wasn’t hurt, he kind of stunk. Ergo, the Red Sox are looking to make an upgrade at third base, writes  WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

One would think that the easy solution would be putting together the left side of the infield that helped the Sox win the World Series: Xander Bogaerts at third base and Stephen Drew at shortstop. However, the Sox don’t want to move Bogaerts off short. And, if they actually wanted Drew, you figure they may have called him well before now.

For the moment third base is Brock Holt’s job. And the Red Sox, spoken of by many as having the best depth in all of baseball, are looking to plug a hole.

  1. drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    They have one in-house (Cecchini). Also makes me wonder if Mookie Betts’ is good enough for short (I doubt it).

    • natstowngreg - May 19, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      Young shortstops get moved to 2B all the time. And, young middle infielders are moved to CF. Moving a prospect to SS from another position would be unusual.

      I saw a note on Rotoworld that Betts played CF for the first time this past weekend. Something about finding a way to get him to the Majors, with Pedroia blocking the 2B route.

      • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        True. I’ve been waiting for Betts to switch to the outfield. His bat looks like it may play anywhere as well.

  2. unclemosesgreen - May 19, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Don’t worry, the Sawks are just waiting until June 5 to sign Drew, that way the first round draft pick is no longer a … did I get you there? Cuz it’s the Sawks’ pick in the first place! They could have signed Drew without giving up a pick.

    Like he wouldn’t jump at 2 years $24 million. For the love of Sweet Caroline, just sign him already.

    • 18thstreet - May 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      I’m not convinced. I think the Sox got a good year out of Drew, but he’s likely to provide the same offense (compiled in a different) way than Middlebrooks.

      Drew’s value comes on defense, and the Red Sox’ problems are on offense. It’s not my money, but there’s no reason to sign him at any price.

  3. drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    What I suspected might happen to Middlebrooks has happened. Guy doesn’t walk enough and has too many holes in his swing to keep his average high. Pedro Feliz 2.0.

    • 18thstreet - May 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      I’m glad they didn’t give up on him too early, but I’m ready to give up on him now.

      • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        What’s nice is that we don’t have to give up on it. He’s got options. Send him back to the minors.

      • 18thstreet - May 19, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        That’s true. And while I can’t speak to Middlebrooks’s state of mind, I’m about to.

        I think, if the team sends him back to AAA, there’s a 100 percent chance that when he gets traded, we’ll hear a lot about how the team never believed in him and he’s relieved to get a fresh start and blah blah blah and cliche cliche cliche. I think they lose him, mentally, once he’s sent back down, forever.

        But I acknowledge I’m talking out of my butt.

  4. chip56 - May 19, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Why do I feel like this is all building up to the Red Sox giving San Diego a bunch of crappy players like Daniel Nava and Ryan Lavarnway for Chase Headley.

    • 18thstreet - May 19, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      I’d be fine with that trade (of course) but it’s hard to get excited about Headley. He had a great year in 2012, but has been a pedestrian player otherwise. Maybe he’s not built to hit at Petco, and maybe he’d benefit from the smaller parks of the AL East. But the numbers are not impressive for 2013 and thus far into 2014.

      But as Bob Ryan would acknowledge, I’m looking at baseball statistics and commenting on a baseball blog at 11:30 on a Monday morning and wondering about the San Diego Padres infield, which means I hate baseball.

      • chip56 - May 19, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Doesn’t mean you hate baseball, just means you’re not an “average” baseball fan.

      • ptfu - May 19, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        Defensively, Headley is just fine at 3B. Good (not great) range, makes the play on whatever he reaches, he’ll show up on the highlight reel, good at charging on bunts & dribblers.

        Offensively, Headley holds his own. He is impossible to watch at the plate. Often fooled, hacks at bad pitches. Always willing to take a walk, though you’ll be shouting at your TV when he’s taking fastballs down the middle. Definitely better lefthanded than righthanded. But at the end of the day/week/month, he gets his hits. Enough pop to keep pitchers honest, and he’ll jack one when you least expect it. And he’s streaky too.

  5. cinfante54 - May 19, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    I wonder if they call Arizona about Chavez or Prado. Although Prado would be a long shot due to his 3 years left on his contract. Chavez could platoon with Holt/WMB until the summer when they can getter gauge if Cecchini is ready. But I’d rather Bogaerts shift to 3B and place Betts at SS.

    • cinfante54 - May 19, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      edit: better*

    • Rick Cosmo - May 19, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      Betts is a 2B who is now learning CF..He is not a SS

  6. redpiratecaptain - May 19, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    If Stephen Drew can just hold out for a few more weeks…..Orange is the new Black season 2 should be on Netflix by then.

    Also, is there a reason why I can’t sign in on Chrome?

  7. chip56 - May 19, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Stephen Drew must have said something about someone’s mamma to be this toxic. Yankees would have to give up a 2nd round pick for Drew and the Tigers are pinning playoff hopes on Andrew Romine right now at SS. These aren’t teams that generally worry about building through the draft.

    • emdash01 - May 19, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      The Tigers are so entirely better than the rest of their division that they can afford to do that.

    • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      Drew will be in somebody’s uniform after June 5.

    • paperlions - May 19, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      I think the issue is that teams like the Tigers, Yankees, and RS would be willing to sign Drew to a cheap 1 year deal to fix an immediate problem, but that Drew is still looking for 3+ years and teams that have current holes at SS have future solutions….there is also the part about Drew not being particularly durable or consistent…both his offense and defense have varied a lot throughout his career….so, you never know what you are going to get from him.

      • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Perhaps so, but if he’s looking for a three-year deal in the middle of the season….well, how often does that ever happen?

      • paperlions - May 19, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        Never, but that is because players like him are never FA during the season.

  8. sdelmonte - May 19, 2014 at 9:30 AM


    I bet Stephen Drew still needs to binge on Star Wars: Clone Wars. Unless he cringes at the idea that parts of an army, or a team, can be replaced with total and utter ease.

  9. Detroit Michael - May 19, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Middlebrooks had only 82 plate appearances between injuries so far this year. Given that he did well in the second half of 2013, it may be a bit premature to conclude that he stinks.

    • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      If you look at his minor league career, you’ll see a player with ugly K/BB ratios, a very high strikeout rate, and a history of missing time. Maybe he doesn’t stink, but it’s probably worthwhile to call up Cecchini while Middlebrooks is out to see if they have an upgrade in him.

    • unclemosesgreen - May 19, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      I’m not sentencing him to perpetual odoriferousness, but he had one good month last year at MLB level, out of 4 full months played. His bat and glove both took a massive step backwards from 2012, when he produced a 1.9 WAR over half a season.

      This year has been more of the same so far. Maybe he just isn’t finished cooking yet, and needs a little more time in the oven. Maybe he was a flash in the pan. Time will tell. But for 4 of his last 5 months in MLB, he’s been an easy out and a shaky fielder.

      • binarymath - May 19, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Giving moses a thumbs-up here. Partly for the actual post, but mostly for his deft use of the term “odoriferousness”. Classic addition to the “words-that-aren’t-but-should-be” genre.

        On the other hand, I’m a bit more partial to using “malaroma” to describe the affliction…

  10. xpensivewinos - May 19, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Why do I feel like this is all building up to the Red Sox giving San Diego a bunch of crappy players like Daniel Nava and Ryan Lavarnway for Chase Headley

    Why would the Red Sox want to trade a “bunch of crappy players” for one crappy player? Headley is brutal.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 19, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      Because Headley is far better than those other two players, and is in no way “crappy”.

  11. tfbuckfutter - May 19, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    Don’t move Xander off shortstop. It’s harder to find a good young shortstop than to fill third.

    Moving him to 3rd puts the team in the same position they’ve been in since trading Nomar. Stopgaps and over paying for overrated garbage.

    • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Eyeball test, I know, but Bogaerts doesn’t look good out there. Not a lot of range IMO. Sox might be better off with him at third.

      • tfbuckfutter - May 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        I agree but think a good offensive shortstop is still more valuable even if his defense isn’t great.

        Moving him at this point would pretty much guarantee he’ll never move back, and he’s still developing. If they have a better defensive option with similar offensive potential go ahead and move him. But shortchanging his value to get a marginal upgrade at short over what you have at third is terribly sorry sighted

      • tfbuckfutter - May 19, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        *short sighted

      • drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        I dunno. How many players have increased their range at short from their time in the minors?

        It’s about putting the best team on the field.

      • tfbuckfutter - May 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        I think we agree it’s definitely about putting the best team on the field.

        My opinion is that moving Xander to 3rd to improve 3rd, and then digging up a marginal shortstop who only brings slightly more to the team than Brock Holt (or whoever) is bringing at 3rd only makes the team marginally better now, and worse in the long run. Because I think it’s easier to solidify 3rd than SS.

        Which is evidenced by throwing tons of money at the Edgar Renterias and the Julio Lugos, and then having to sign stopgaps like Alex Gonzalez and Marco Scutaro and still ending up in the same position. With no long term answer at SS.

        So like I said, I think it only makes sense to move him if there is a comparable offensive shortstop who provides better defense (or one who provides considerably better defense without too much of a downgrade in offense).

        Short version, I’d rather consistency at both positions than a constant state of flux at shortstop.

      • Reflex - May 19, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        Sample size is small, but so far Xander grades out exactly average defensively at short. Given that he’s 21, I certainly think he can improve defensively. If he were in his late 20’s, then yes this is as good as it gets.

        There is no reason to move him off short. Even if he does not improve, a league average defensive SS who can hit for power is very valuable.

  12. binarymath - May 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    If Boston wants to shore up 3rd base without moving XB from shortstop, they can wait to see how soon Ryan Zimmermann returns to the Nats (at whatever position). Rendon is decent at third, so Frandsen may be the odd man out.

    Another 3B story is unfolding in Philly. Cody Asche is the current 3B, but if the Phils fall out of contention, they may have a fire sale and let Asche go to make room for Maikel Franco.

    Frandsen has versatility, while Asche is strictly (at this point) a 3B. And both are well ahead of Drew in the not-yet-announced FanGraphs “smiles above replacement” clubhouse-guy sabermetric…

  13. drewsylvania - May 19, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Anyone else think the balls have been modified (again)? Offense is way, way down. It seems to me that the Sox and other teams are having trouble adjusting (plus some strangely good seasons, like V-Mart’s).

    • Reflex - May 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      There is no evidence the balls were ever modified. What there is evidence of is that pitchers are increasingly taking advantage of the swing away approach that hitters have taken over the past two decades. Joe Posanski had an article about that here recently.

  14. fenwayfan91 - May 19, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    I think they’ll stick with Holt/Middlebrooks until they believe Garin Cecchini (currently in AAA) is ready. I also don’t think the Sox want to move Bogaerts off SS, so going after Drew again (especially if he’s looking for more than 1 year) may not be the ansewr.

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