Will Middlebrooks, who just two seasons ago made a strong case as the third baseman of the future for the Boston Red Sox, has sunk to .188 on the season. He went 0-3 in last night’s 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays, though he avoided striking out in his final two at-bats, a notable accomplishment considering he had whiffed in 10 of his previous 16 trips. Taking a page from the Shea Hillenbrand manual, Middlebrooks has walked just four times in the month of August. All told, it’s the second straight season the injury-plagued third sacker has scuffled around the Mendoza Line.
Bill James and the Red Sox seem to think there’s a 30-homer bat in there, but the lack of plate discipline and general ineffectiveness of Middlebrooks has been maddening. He turns 26 next month, is closing in on 800 Major League at-bats, and if the Sox are looking to compete next year, one has to wonder if it’s worth keeping him around or just cutting ties, admittedly selling low on a guy they were once very high on.
Though Middlebrooks hasn’t exactly been the second coming of Michael Jack Schmidt the last two seasons, the free agent market is uncertain. There are two current or former All-Stars out there this winter: 36-year old Aramis Ramirez, who has made an art form of being banged up every year and Pablo Sandoval, whom the Sox reportedly looked into acquiring and moving to first base, will seek upwards of $100 million on the free agent market, and may not have long-term viability at the position.
@sylverfox25 Holt/Cecchini. Middlebrooks could be moved this winter, though they’d be selling low.
— Aaron Somers (@AaronJSomers) August 28, 2014
Internal options are available, if not particularly salivating. Brock Holt (.291/.342/.390) has done his best Jeff Frye impersonation this season, which is fine on a team loaded with boppers. But the Sox will also likely feature Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez in their 2015 lineup, which projects to be a rather weak bottom third of the order. The same goes for Garin Cecchini. He hasn’t exactly lit up Triple-A this season. Both players, however, have value in their ability to play multiple positions.
Would Sox fans accept a Holt/Cecchini platoon on a team looking to go from worst to first, to worst, to first again? Do the Sox need to make a free agent splash (perhaps a cannonball would be more appropriate) with the Kung Fu Panda? Are you stuck on Middlebrooks because of the scarcity of young power bats in Major League Baseball? Let your feelings be known below and in the comment section.