A Red Sox linkage to the past – Sandoval and Foy


Joe Foy was an underrated hitter who had a keen eye at the plate that was reflected in his OBP. A right-handed hitter Foy, then 23-years-old, hit .266 in 1966 as a rookie with the Red Sox while drawing 91 walks.

Foy also had some punch at the plate with 15 home runs in 1966 and 16 in 1967 for the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox. Foy also could move on the base paths with 26 steals in 1968 and 37 the next season for the Kansas City Royals.

Foy was a questionable fielder at third with botched ground balls and some scatter arm errors in his MLB career that lasted a brief six seasons. What happened?

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In 1967, Dick Williams became manager of the Red Sox and the country club days were officially over for the noted soft franchise.

Williams was a notorious task master who would sit any player at any time for even the slightest failures of fundamentals. Carl Yastrzemski, who was a teammate of Williams in the early 60s, knew full well what was in store and showed up in superior shape for 1967. Foy was another story.

Foy loved to eat. Simple as that. The weight became an issue as did Williams opinion that Foy occasionally lacked hustle in the field. Foy, to his credit showed up in 1968 in reasonable shape, but the tension with the manager only intensified. A league leading 30 errors and a drunk driving incident, coupled with a .225 average made Foy expendable in the expansion draft.

Foy has a nice season with the expansion Royals in 1969 and was traded to the New York Mets for Bob Johnson and Amos Otis. At age 46 Foy died of a heart attack.

So I see, the similarities with Pablo Sandoval. The questionable fielding and poor conditioning. Sandoval, like Foy, has a nice bat – Foy’s numbers do not match-up, but consider Foy’s were in the age of the pitcher.

Sandoval, like Foy, has a reputation of being a rather solid clubhouse player. Sandoval, to his credit, did not seek asylum in the training room after a nightmarish 0-4 and two errors in a loss to the Twins. But that weight?

Weight had periodically been an issue for Sandoval in San Francisco, especially after a down season or a prolonged slump. Sandoval is now 28-years-old and that is a point where conditioning becomes even more significant. Is that extra weight an issue in Sandoval’s inability to hit right-handed?

The fielding is also deteriorating for Sandoval. So far Sandoval has a UZR/150 that is -16.8. Dead last tie with Chase Headley. The defensive numbers have slipped and that includes range factor – and range is tied into both quickness and agility. Two factors that certainly can be linked to weight.

The Red Sox are stuck. Xander Bogaerts is a good, but not exceptional glove at short. Hanley Ramirez does not have a Gold Glove in his future. The left side of the defense is not a pitchers best friend.

Sandoval is limited. In the past he has played first and with Mike Napoli on the last year of his contract that is a possibility. The possibility that David Ortiz is nearing the end may also open up DH as an option – a very, very expensive option.

What is becoming clear is the Red Sox simply made a mistake. A bad signing. There were warning signs – especially with erosion of fielding and hitting in 2012-14. The offset was some exceptional post season performance in 2014 that just may have clouded the Red Sox management.

With the vociferous fan base in Boston it is just a matter of time before Sandoval becomes a very big (pun intended) target for team failures and fan frustration.

Statistics from Fangraphs through 6/7/15.

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