Red Sox Garin Cecchini Maybe Should Be Worried
Peter Abraham reported on Wednesday from Fort Myers, Florida, that Garin Cecchini has absolutely no issues with the Boston Red Sox signing Pablo Sandoval at third base, this season. Can we possibly believe that a minor league prospect has no fear or loathing about a World Series MVP, whom is adored by millions of baseball fans, playing the same position that he was to play when and if he was called up?
“’I take it as a positive for my career,’ Cecchini said. ‘I get to hang out with a great player like that and work with him in spring training. That has to help me. It’s easy to say, ‘Where is my spot?’ but I can’t worry about that. You have to create your own opportunity’” according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.
That sounds about right to the beat of every public relations’ drum. What is Cecchini supposed to say? I love the fact that one of the best players at my position is in the way of my dream? He cannot show his frustration if he had any, because then he would be considered an ungrateful and disrespectful kid, who has not earned his bones yet in the big leagues. Cecchini said, “I have confidence in my ability and know what I can do. I know I can help the Red Sox win. I understand Pablo is in front of me but I hope I can do something to help.” His words show confidence in his abilities and his willingness to be a team player, which make Cecchini a non-issue before Spring Training officially begins.
His words also make him an interesting consideration for other teams, before the regular season begins. If Cecchini is not a problem for the Red Sox, then he could be a good fit in the locker rooms of other clubs, whom need a solid third baseman, young or not. In 114 minor league games in Pawtucket, the Louisiana-native hit .263, with 7 home runs and 57 RBIs in 407 at-bats. His on-base percentage (.341) and slugging power (.371) helped make him a decent threat at the plate for minor league pitchers, but, as they are not staggering numbers, there is no guarantee that his skillsets will translate to success in the majors. Cecchini’s 6’3″, 220-pound frame would be hidden by a 5’11”, 245-pound panda’s numbers.
Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval speaks to the crowd during the World Series celebration at City Hall. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Only looking at last season, Sandoval hit .279, with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs in 588 at-bats. And that was against Major League pitchers. His .324 OBP and .415 SLG were earned against pitchers throwing much harder and with more accuracy, challenging him with every delivery. Sandoval is also becoming one of the better defensive third basemen in the majors, as well, making it very hard for anyone, whether Cecchini or other players already on the Red Sox roster, to displace.
However, it is not like Cecchini is completely foreign to big-league action. Cecchini did get a call up to Boston, last season, as third base was barren with injuries and lack of stellar play from the likes of Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts. Middlebrooks now plays for the San Diego Padres and Bogaerts has been exiled back to shortstop, his more natural playing position, anyways. “Cecchini hit .258 with an .813 OPS in 36 plate appearances for the Sox. He collected four extra-base and four RBIs along the way and impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic. His defense, once a question, showed improvement.”
The ultimate problem that is staring Cecchini and the Red Sox in the face is that Sandoval will not be a free agent until 2020, and everyone plans on having him as the third baseman until his contract runs out. You don’t plan on paying a man $90 million for the next five years to be replaced by a prospect, any time soon. The Red Sox outfield log jam of talented players and veteran all-star infielders only furthers the frustration. If any injuries occur, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts, two former prospects, have proven that they can step into virtually any position and have success. Essentially, Cecchini is in a baseball system where every position has a major leaguer already there with another major leaguer waiting as ‘Plan B’ on the bench.
While Cecchini is saying all of the right things and has the right attitude to start Spring Training, look for Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington to either leave him in the minors this season or trade him in a package, for likely another pitcher. Cecchini should have a great learning experience in Fort Myers until April, with all of the great veterans teaching him the ins and outs of the game. He should, however, prepare himself for the inevitable decision that Boston will not be in his future, at least not this season.