Tag Archives: Alex Gonzalez

Boston Red Sox: Time For Change

Jose Iglesias has the ability to be Boston's shortstop of the future

The Boston Red Sox need change. Not in management, not in coaching, but in their roster. There are players to let go and holes to be filled that will improve their clubhouse chemistry and their ability on the field.  Assuming the Red Sox keep both David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon, and with the staring rotation unfortunately under contract, the holes are at shortstop, right field and catcher. Boston has three options at their disposal: look for a trade, promote from the farm system, and search the free agent market. The Red Sox will need to use all three options to better this team and prevent a repeat of this year.

Shortstop has been a problem ever since Nomar Garicapara was shipped out of town. Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Alex Gonzalez, and Marco Scutaro have all played the position. The Red Sox have their shortstop of the future in Jose Iglesias. He is a defensive wizard, but leaves much to be desired with his bat. Because of him, Boston should target Alex Gonzalez instead of a player such as Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes. He is a cheaper option that can handle the position until Iglesias is ready to be called up. With the lineup the Red Sox have, they can afford to have a shortstop specializing in fielding.

Right field has been home to J.D. Drew for the past five years, and fans cannot wait to see him leave. Because of the never-ending injuries of Drew, the Sox constantly had find temporary replacements for him. Now it’s time to find a player that not only has talent, but reliability as well. Josh Reddick looked to be a capable replacement when he first came up, but his shine quickly faded away, and Ryan Kalish is coming off an injury plagued year and needs to prove he can stay healthy before he can take the next step. Michael Cuddyer would be a perfect fit for right field. He can hit for average, power, and most importantly, stay healthy. He will be 33 years old at the start of the season, so he will not be a long term solution, but he can be a good right handed bat that many have wanted for a couple of years.

It is time for Jason Varitek to go. He will be turning 40 next year, and he behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the depth chart. Bring up Ryan Lavarnway. While he isn’t the best defensive catcher, he is a great hitter and a potential replacement for David Ortiz down the line. Defense can be taught and Lavarnway is still young enough to develop the skills. He can step into Varitek’s role and continue to grow while learning the staff as Saltalamacchia starts.

Unless the Red Sox are able to trade John Lackey, or even Josh Beckett, don’t expect any big names to join Boston next year. The team underperformed as a whole this year and their areas of weakness need to be addressed. Look for Boston add low-key players that will have a significant impact on the club in 2012.

Is Shortstop The New Red Sox Jinx?

Did the 2004 trade of Nomar Garciaparra unleash a new jinx on the Red Sox even after vanquishing the old one?

The trade deadline has passed. The Red Sox go into the final two months of the season with only one real sore spot at shortstop where Marco Scutaro is really more cut out to be a utility infielder and Jed Lowrie can’t stay healthy. It continues the pattern of instability the Sox have had at short since the 2004 World Series run.

Nomar Garciaparra, one of the modern icons in Boston sports, had manned the shortstop position from 1997 through July of 2004 when the most famous deadline deal in Red Sox history shipped him the Cubs and brought in Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts and Doug Mienkiewitcz. The latter provided valuable defensive help at first base. Roberts stole the most important base in club history in Game 4 of the League Championship Series. And Cabrera handled the shortstop job before being cut loose at the end of the season and going on to success with the Angels, where he had a good run of 2-3 years as one of the AL’s top shortstops. Boston meanwhile, grasped for stability at the infield’s most important defensive position.

They’ve come and gone through the Hub these last eight years. Edgar Renteria was brought in for 2005 with a good pedigree, but he had trouble handling the Boston atmosphere and really struggled defensively. He was traded to Atlanta after a year on the job. Alex Gonzalez came in and played the most exquisite defensive shortstop I’ve ever watched. But Theo Epstein was convinced that in the AL East shortstop was an offensive position as well. So he gave Julio Lugo a four-year contract. Lugo’s performance certainly made Red Sox shortstop play offensive, although not in the sense Epstein intended. The forgettable Nick Green got a crack at the job and improved on Lugo’s effort, if only because you didn’t have the words “$44 million for four years” going through your mind every time he came to the plate or couldn’t cut off a slowly hit grounder up the middle. Gonzalez came back for a stint in a trade deadline deal in 2009, although he was again let go after the year was over. Finally the front office signed Scutaro and continued to hope for Lowrie, who’d shown such promise in 2008 and again at the start of this year to get healthy. Nothing’s worked and in the tradition of Boston sports it’s led some to again believe larger forces are at work (nothing is ever simple with us, is it?).

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Chronicling Red Sox Shortstops Since Nomar

Shortstop: Generally considered the most important defensive position in baseball aside from the pitcher-catcher battery.  Responsible for a substantial amount of infield terrain, he chosen to man this position is looked to as the centerpiece of an infield.

Since Nomar, shortstop's proven tough to fill for the Red Sox.

Theo Epstein: Promoted from within the Red Sox organization, heralded as a boy wonder.  Since taking the helm at General Manager in 2003, Epstein has been the face of a new era in Red Sox baseball — one that has featured 6 95-win seasons, 6 trips to the postseason, 4 ALCS appearances, and 2 World Series victories.  Criticized probably too often for his edgy approach that emphasizes statistical analysis, in a results-based business, he’s produced ’em.

These two entities, though, have not mixed well.

In a pattern more disturbing than that of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Epstein’s Red Sox have featured 7 shortstops that at one time laid claim to the starting role, and the 8th — Marco Scutaro — will be throwing his hat into the ring less than 2 weeks.  I personally don’t know why it’s been so difficult for Boston to settle on one, but I will at least provide a comprehensive timeline of the revolving door at a position of importance.

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