Travis Shaw the Red Sox 800 pound gorilla


Travis Shaw has now become the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the Red Sox plans. Shaw, who was never viewed as the traditional up-in-lights prospect, has suddenly emerged as a force to be reckoned with in future Red Sox plans. So, going along on the primate trail, Shaw has tossed a monkey wrench into the Red Sox War Room.

More from Red Sox News

What great sin did Shaw initiate?

The bat and the glove is the story of the affable youngster (25) with the sweet left-handed swing and a baseball lineage – his father, Jeff Shaw, was a two-time All-Star and a very good bullpen piece who the current bullpen could probably use a vintage Shaw.

Shaw can play third and first. Pablo Sandoval can’t play third and Hanley Ramirez can’t play left field. That has presented a dilemma for those who authorized dishing out almost $200 million for two disappointments. What do you do?

Money will often trump talent in baseball and the siren song is Hanley and Panda “must play” since the team is on a financial hook. Unless Shaw starts ringing up Ted Williams type numbers he places senior management in a quandary. The smart move – the Red Sox occasionally do this – is to keep Shaw firmly rooted at first base and hope that somehow the issue with the two faux hitting studs is somehow resolved.

Ramirez will finish off the first year of his deal so the financial hit of waving bye-bye is a bit less ponderous than in the spring. My assumption is Boston will keep Hanley and somehow weasel some time at DH, LF, and even first base. The first base option may seem ludicrous, but could it possibly be as defensively sinful as LF?

Sandoval has been discussed as a possible move to first or left tackle. Oops….wrong sport. The Panda has played first before and the level of defensive skill certainly does not match the requirements at third. Of course, a slimmed down Panda could show up in spring training and remain at third.

The outfield situation is quite clear and that means Jackie Bradley as a key. JBJ hits in the .250+ range he’ll play. With Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo in the OF you have three ball hawks and one very good arm (Betts) and two cannons. This would be a premier defensive alignment. By the end of September we will all know if what JBJ has suddenly become is a mirage or the real deal.

So that means you have two square pegs (Ramirez and Sandoval) and one round hole. So that brings us back full circle to Shaw. He hits in that .270 range with pop you have your third or first baseman. No arguments as he would be the best option with defense and hitting.

I have (no surprise) an opinion. Somehow – and I may be delusional – Panda will slim down. Of course, when your weigh in like Gorilla Monsoon’s the term “slim down” can be interpreted many ways. For the sake of non-debate it will be a return to someone who has a plus and not a minus when viewing defensive metrics. And at 29-years-old a 2016 Sandoval should get that average up to his previous MLB range.

Then comes the Ramirez conundrum. Hanley in left field is like riding a Harley in a snowstorm at around 100 MPH – an accident is inevitable, but when is the question? A ball hit to LF is an adventure that can be humorous and frustrating. Hanley has certainly tried and tried, but has about as much a chance of mastering LF as I do mastering the polka.

With Ramirez he has that one rare gift in today’s game that brings the oh’s and ah’s and that is the ability to crunch the ball. Can a 100% healthy Hanley be the bopper we saw in April? If so, he is slotted in somewhere. So that is where the multiplicity comes in. Occasional games at 1B, occasional games in LF (OMG!) and some DH time. Any way you play it a productive Shaw makes Ramirez a 125 game player.

Any way you examine it, Shaw becomes the catalyst – if he continues to hit. And a secondary catalyst is Bradley- if, likewise, he can hit. Both happen then this will be for Panda and Hanley like Thunderdome – two men enter and one man leaves. Which one leaves and how would be for the new puzzle master, Dave Dombrowski, to solve.

More from BoSox Injection