September 26, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pedro Ciriaco (top) forces out Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) at second base during the second inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Case for Pedro Ciriaco as Boston's Opening Day Shortstop

Sticking your neck out there doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be popular. Caution be damned. First and foremost, I’m a Red Sox fan and I hope I’m speaking for Red Sox Nation when I say that that Pedro Ciriaco, not Jose Iglesias, should be Boston’s opening day shortstop.

Satisfaction with World Championships garnered in 2004 and 2007 should not be enough. Professional sports is about being the best of breed, period, no excuses. If the Sox are timid and “professional” in their approach they run the risk of squandering an opportunity to light a fire that could ignite New England this summer. One need only look to the Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels to see that, as youth has been served, so have exciting pennant races and emerging stars emerged.

Yesterday I made the call that Jackie Bradley should start in left field with Jonny Gomes and either Lyle Overbay /Mike Carp/Ryan Lavarnway (don’t make me more depressed by trying to justify this trio) as the lefty/righty combo to fill in for Boston’s injured DH David Ortiz. Bradley has by a long shot been the best player in Boston’s lineup this spring. Play him dammit! Compete now.

It is for similar logical reasons that I’m supporting Pedro Ciriaco as Boston’s opening day shortstop. It’s not going happen but I’m sticking to my guns.

Jose Iglesias has been offensively challenged his entire career. Yes, he’s a human vacuum cleaner at shortstop – a wizard really – but guys that bat their hat size at this position in the modern era are a dying breed. While it’s true that Ciriaco faded at the end of the 2012 season it’s also true that he batted .293 in 76 games and had some electrifying moments.

Meanwhile Iglesias batted .118 in 25 games with Boston. Iglesias over the past two seasons is a career .981 fielder. Ciriaco is a career .932 fielder. OK, so the defensive edge definitely goes to Iglesias. Still, when shoved into a corner I’d take Ciriaco at .49 less in fielding but a whopping .175 batting average increase in a New York minute. If Iglesias gets the start on opening day and becomes the every day SS until Stephen Drew can return to the lineup from his concussion it’s going to be his last hurrah. He won’t produce offensively and it will hurt the Sox as they try to get off to a fast start. I hope I’m dead wrong. I think I’m dead on.

Ciriaco could be very good for a stretch of games until Drew is ready to return and is also more flexible at a number of infield positions than is the one trick pony Iglesias.

I’m feeling it. Comment and prove me wrong Nation.

Baby give it up or turn it a loose 
Uh ha baby gives it up or turn it a loose 
Starting over again 
Baby, give it up or turn it a loose 
Oh ha baby, give it up or turn it loose 
Oooooh all right
- Give It Up or Turnit Loose, James Brown 


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Tags: Boston Red Sox Pedro Ciriaco

  • Aidan Flynn

    Steve, I understand the call for a guy like Ciriaco following his surprising 2012, but count me as a huge doubter. He has no power (.390 SLG), practically never walks (2.9 BB%), and had his average driven by a completely unsustainable .352 BABIP (well above both league average and what his career record would suggest). While Iglesias can’t hit, at least he provides definite value with his glove. Ciriaco is bound for offensive regression and can’t hold a light to Iglesias defensively (something in which no one can). Give me someone who can be a 2 win defender in spite of his offensive shortcomings over a complete enigma in Ciriaco

    • Conor Duffy

      This is how I feel too. Also, Iglesias has looked quite a bit better with the bat this spring and is even hitting some balls hard.

    • John Fahrer

      I’m with you and Connor. Ciriaco was a surprise last season but really cooled off towards the end. There’s a good chance that surprise he provided with the bat was just a one-time thing and he’s a mediocre hitter going forward.

      The lack of OBP skills and power definitely don’t justify a starting job. But he has good speed and is versatile. A solid guy to have off the bench if he can maintain a steady batting average.

      Iglesias is still the prospect while Ciriaco’s the journeyman. Got to let the prospect have a chance in his make or break season.

      • stephenepeterson

        You guys are definitely seeing something I’m not. Spring training stats. Iglesias 17 games. Ciriaco 13 games. Hits, tied at 10. Runs, tied at 5. Walks, Iglesias 2, Ciriaco 0. RBI, tied at 5. Ks, Iglesias 8, Ciriaco 3. Stolen bases, Igleias 0, Ciriaco 3. The slash line, save for Iglesias’ .013 edge in slugging percentage, clearly goes to Ciriaco. So essentially while playing 4 fewer games Ciriaco’s output equals or betters that of Iglesias. Without Papi in the lineup, Boston’s needs as much pop as possible. Ciriaco will provide that IF he stays disciplined. I’ll take a slight defensive downgrade for a month’s worth of pop.

        • Aidan Flynn

          FIrst off Steve, please do not quote stats from 30 to 40 at bats of spring training numbers. They mean nothing, contrary to what people still seem to think. Munenori Kawasaki hit .455 last spring. Who? Exactly? Second, Ciriaco’s offensive numbers were a mirage from last year. His average was completely BABIP-driven and is unsustainable. Give him time to regress, and whatever offensive gap between them now gets even smaller. Then compare their defense and its not even close, in favor of Iglesias. You say they need all the offense they can get, but a run is a run, whether its saved or scored. Heck, an argument could be made that defense is even more important so that the pitchers have a shred of confidence following last year’s disappointment. Color me a skeptic, but I just don’t see it with Ciriaco.

    • stephenepeterson

      Offensive shortcomings is an understatement. We’re talking about filling a gap for 30 days at most until Drew is healthy. Yes, Ciriaco is undisciplined at the plate but he certainly has more pop than Iglesias who is absolutely anemic. Give me someone who can provide the club with a short-term bump until Drew returns. I like stats as much as the next guy but I’m going old school on this one.

      • Aidan Flynn

        Does he really have more pop? .390 SLG, 2 HR. Not saying Iglesias is anything special with the stick, but it’s not like Ciriaco is substantially better. This is why guys like Brendan Ryan still have a job. Defense means something, even when his bat isn’t up to snuff

  • Paul Prims

    I’m not a stats geek so when I ponder this question I look at it from the standpoint of the Red Sox having to find a long term solution at SS. It’s either going to be Iglesias or Boegarts. I know Ciraco brought some bright light to the dark season of 2012 and I applaud him for it. But the Red Sox, with Drew’s injury, have been given an opportunity to see if Iglesias can hit in the major leagues. Stick him out there for a month and see if he can hit. If he can’t then you know for sure you have to move onto to Xander when he is ready. Playing Ciriaco doesn’t help you in that decision. Plus the Sox have low expectations coming into the season so why not find out your answers now?