Sep 11, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (16) connects for a one run single in the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Does anyone else remember in 2012 when Will Middlebrooks entered the Fenway Park batter’s box for one of his first big league at-bats and promptly deposited a grand slam over the Green Monster?
Or how about the time when Middlebrooks hit three home runs in an early season affair versus the Blue Jays in 2013?
I’m sure you all remember the third baseman’s “trippy” play from game three of the 2013 World Series against the Cardinals, which ironically involved Middlebrooks’ current teammate Allen Craig. To this day, I still believe that even though it was in the heat of the moment, it was a purposeful trip by the Sox player, by the way.
So is my argument against the 26-year-old continuing his playing days in Beantown focused solely on an opinion-based play from nearly one year ago? No, not even the slightest.
While Middlebrooks has certainly shown sparks of greatness during his young career, I feel that given team personnel and his history of injuries and inconsistent play – not to mention a significant other who had obvious close ties with the team – Red Sox management should seriously considering trying to move the 2007 draftee this offseason.
Some may argue that it’s still too early for Ben Cherington, John Farrell, and company to pull the plug on the potential slugger. I say that now is as good a time as any to look for a trade partner for Middlebrooks.
Consider the options that the team would still have to man the hot corner if the Texas native left town.
1. Brock Holt – The sample size is still small, and his numbers have tailed off in the season’s second half, but I am very high on Holt. He’s the same age as Middlebrooks and like him, Holt is earning a very minimal salary. Holt’s versatility, defense, and Dustin Pedroia-esque grit and determination are just a few reasons why I like this fan favorite.
Jul 27, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Brock Holt (26) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2. Carlos Rivero – Yet another 26-year-old who likely won’t be warranting an eight figure yearly salary any time soon, Rivero has hit well in his very, very, limited at-bats so far with the Sox. Rivero also has a history of playing numerous positions.
3. Free agency – If you’re not comfortable with Holt or Rivero taking over for Middlebrooks, Red Sox executives could also look to replace him through free agency. This offseason’s crop of talent may not be as lofty as last year’s, but the field of third basemen does include Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley, among others.
July 29, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) defends against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at AT&T Park. The Pirates defeated the Giants 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With a supposed much-improved offense already in place for 2015, a powerful man at third may not be a necessity for the Sox. I’m sure they’d be able to find a suitable replacement for the inconsistent, injury-prone Middlebrooks.
Would trading Middlebrooks be a risk? Sure, it would be. But because he is still on the right side of 30, has some pop in his bat, and has shown spurts of possible success in the league, now might be one of the last chances for Boston to get a decent return for Middlebrooks.
Was I too hard on Middlebrooks? Should the Sox keep him around for 2015 and see what happens? Who should be the BoSox starting third baseman in 2015? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!