Are The Red Sox Mismanaging Their Shortstop Position?

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Thursday April.11/2013

Is Jose Iglesias the best fielding Shortstop in baseball? Maybe I'm biased but I believe he is. Keith Law called him the best defensive prospect he had ever seen. His defense has carried him thus far in his professional career, but I think his bat is ready for the Majors in 2013. It might not be at its full potential, but it is developed enough.

Is Jose Iglesias the best fielding Shortstop in baseball? Maybe I’m biased but I believe he is. Keith Law called him the best defensive prospect he had ever seen. His defense has carried him thus far in his professional career, but I think his bat is ready for the Majors in 2013. It might not be at its full potential, but it is developed enough.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Red Sox Correspondent): 

The Boston Red Sox have been off to one of their best starts in recent memory so far in 2013. At this early juncture in the season they are still in 1st place in the AL East and for the most part are performing like a team with playoff aspirations.

A lot of this is due to the reemergence of veterans who had down 2013 campaigns but there are also a developing core of young players contributing such as Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Jose Iglesias.

While batting .450 (9-20), Jose Iglesias couldn’t have done anything more to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Despite his great start he was sent down to Pawtucket (AAA) to make room for Stephen Drew who is coming off injury (concussion).

Jose Iglesias Highlights: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

Has Stephen Drew already hit his peak before the age of 30? He has been on a decline for the past 2 seasons, injuries did play a factor. Drew is still probably above average offensively for the position.

Has Stephen Drew already hit his peak before the age of 30? He has been on a decline for the past 2 seasons, injuries did play a factor. Drew is still probably above average offensively for the position.

In the case of Jose Iglesias, a lot of people are jumping on the young Cuban’s bandwagon as he has hit very well so far this season. Everyone knows his defense has been ready to play at the highest level for some time now (possibly as far back as his days in the womb), but could his bat also be ready now?

It’s funny, I always thought Iglesias could hit, you can ask my friends, I’ve been a big Iglesias supporter. To see other people finally agreeing with me is kind of weird. It is such a small sample size, his hitting in 2013 that is, but people love to hype whoever is hot.

In this article I want to talk about what I think of Iglesias, and why. I also want to discuss the overall Shortstop situation for the Red Sox as it is an interesting one.

Stephen Drew has replaced Iglesias at Shortstop as was the plan all along. Drew will hope he can warm up like the New England weather is even though he only had 16 Spring Training ABs and 13 Rehab ones.

The burning question I have is, why did the Red Sox sign Stephen Drew? I am not saying Drew is bad, rather I question what the Red Sox thoughts on Iglesias were during the offseason. They must have thought 1 of 2 things.

1. They thought Iglesias needed another year to develop his hitting at Pawtucket (hence the 1 YR contract for Drew). 2. They thought Iglesias wouldn’t ever hit at the Major League level and were hoping Xander Bogaerts would be ready by the start of 2014.

If they thought Iglesias could produce the same output as Drew, they wouldn’t have signed Drew. So they clearly didn’t think he was at that level now, but looking at what Drew has produced in recent years, what reason is there for such a big difference in expectations between Drew and Iglesias to warrant spending $9.5 Million on an “upgrade” to the offense? Especially where Iglesias is a far superior fielder.

Over the past 2 seasons Stephen Drew has played in 165 games, with a slash line of .238/.313/.373. He also had 12 HRs and 73 RBI over that time. From ’08-’10 Drew was better averaging 146 Games per year, a slash line of .277/.335/.465 with 16 HRs and 64 RBI.

In Jose Iglesias’ first season in pro ball (2010) he actually hit very well between short season A (Salem) and AA (Portland). In 221 ABs in Portland he hit .285/.315/.357.

Even though this short stint in AA was interrupted by a DL trip due to a hand injury, Iglesias was still promoted to AAA (Pawtucket) to start the 2011 campaign.

Iglesias came into the Red Sox organization after defecting from Cuba a polished defensive player, while still very raw offensively. Due to his great glove, he was rushed up the Minor League ranks a little too fast, in my opinion.

To put it in perspective, Iglesias was 20 during his time in AA, and started AAA at 21. Jackie Bradley Jr. turned 22 last April while he was in high A and then moved up to AA, still 22 years of age. Bradley also had collegiate experience prior to pro ball.

In 2011 Iglesias only hit .235/.285/.269 in AAA. He then improved upon that in 2012 hitting .266/.318/.306 in AAA. My point is, he was and still is a work in progress. Despite his poor Major League statistics (prior to this season) I think he is ready to get a Full – Time shot at the big leagues.

I guess Red Sox disagreed as they went out and signed Stephen Drew this past winter Iglesias has proven my point so far this year, but don’t get me wrong, he will not keep up this level of production. No one is going to hit .450 over a full season.

I think Stephen Drew is probably a better offensive option for 2013, but by how much? Also are his defensive deficiencies worth the potential upgrade in offensive production? Iglesias is also faster on the base-paths which would lend itself favorably to the aggressiveness manager John Farrell has shown in his managerial career.

Even if Drew ends up with a positive WAR this season, which I’m not sure he will, was it worth signing him? It now becomes an economic debate. What is the opportunity cost of using the nearly $10 Million to sign Drew?

I doubt the Sox would consider using Drew as a backup Utility Infielder unless he struggles mightily, they won’t want to admit they were wrong in signing him. I don’t think they trade him too, although by the end of July who knows where things will stand.

Xander Bogaerts is sort of the opposite player that Jose Iglesias is. His bat is what is carrying him up the professional baseball ladder. He is a top prospect in all of baseball without a doubt, but will he stick at Shortstop long term?

Xander Bogaerts is sort of the opposite player that Jose Iglesias is. His bat is what is carrying him up the professional baseball ladder. He is a top prospect in all of baseball without a doubt, but will he stick at Shortstop long term?

The Red Sox vibe so far this season seems to be very positive, so in order to keep that up, demoting Iglesias despite his hot start seems to be the scenario of least resistance.

It is also likely the path for Jackie Bradley, at least until he gets 20 days of service time in the Minors, which would delay his ability to reach free agency by a year.

My overall thought is that the Red Sox place too much value in offensive production from the Shortstop position, a lot more than most team’s do, which put them in the position they are in.

Offense is more valuable than defense sure, but Shortstop might be one of the few positions (along with catcher) that the disparity isn’t as drastic.

Iglesias will blow Drew out of that dirty water in Boston any day defensively. Iglesias has a positive 9 DSR in his brief Major League career. Drew has a positive 4 DSR for his career, which is in over 26x the amount of innings at Shortstop. Drew’s career UZR/150 is -5. Iglesias’ UZR/150 is 29.7.

I think it is time to stop the revolving door that has been the Red Sox Shortstop position since the great Nomar Garciaparra was dealt in ’04. The Sox have been searching for an offensive minded Shortstop, but they are never satisfied with who they end up with. Maybe it’s time to switch their thinking.

I think they should give Iglesias a real shot THIS season, while continuing to develop Bogaerts as a Shortstop. You can always switch Bogaerts position later if and when it becomes a problem. The great thing about Bogaerts is his bat profiles well anywhere, but cross that bridge when it comes time.

My personal belief is that Jose Iglesias gives the Red Sox the best chance to win games in 2013. This being my belief, it would also lead me to be in disagreement with the way the Red Sox handled their off-season at this position.

Let me know what all you Red Sox fans opinions are. Am I being too harsh on the Red Sox or Stephen Drew? Are my expectations for Jose Iglesias out of line?

Nomar Garciaparra was a 6x All-Star, 5 times with the Boston Red Sox. On top of that he won a Silver Slugger at the Shortstop position and 2 Batting Titles in his career. He was a truly special talent and was what is now a dying breed as a gifted offensive Shortstop. His lifetime .313 Batting Average, 20-20 season, and his all-around offensive statistics are remarkable feats. Had it not been for injuries derailing his career after his 30 Year Old season, his numbers could have been even more outstanding. The Red Sox seem to be looking for another Nomar at Shortstop, but I don't think there will ever be another quite like him.

Nomar Garciaparra was a 6x All-Star, 5 times with the Boston Red Sox. On top of that he won a Silver Slugger at the Shortstop position and 2 Batting Titles in his career. He was a truly special talent and was what is now a dying breed as a gifted offensive Shortstop. His lifetime .313 Batting Average, 20-20 season, and his all-around offensive statistics are remarkable feats. Had it not been for injuries derailing his career after his 30 Year Old season, his numbers could have been even more outstanding. The Red Sox seem to be looking for another Nomar at Shortstop, but I don’t think there will ever be another quite like him.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A big thank-you goes out to our baseball writer Ryan Dana for preparing today’s featured article.  Ryan is junior studying physical education with a concentration in coaching at Bridgewater State University. He has been playing baseball since he was 7 and coaching since he was 14. Ryan wants to be a college baseball coach once he graduates. 

Ryan is, and always will be, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. Secondary to baseball, he is a big health and fitness enthusiast. You can find Ryan on Twitter .

a  ryan dana

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Posted on April 11, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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