Boston Red Sox nowhere man: Brock Holt


Brock Holt will play, but just where is the question? Probably everywhere.

All the rage in the Boston Red Sox off season are the projections of a potential new first baseman that is merely a reconstituted left fielder that was a reconstituted shortstop. First base is certainly an intriguing destination for Hanley Ramirez, who displayed about as much agility in left as a hippo attempting a soft shoe. A second projection is pitching.

"Nowhere Man, don’t worry,Take your time, don’t hurry"

The Red Sox fan base is captivated by the saturation coverage of the quest for an ace as so promised by Dave Dombrowski. Certainly not as earth shattering as the annual “Sexiest Man Alive” cover shot – and, again, I finished out of the running. Ace is the place as the commercial goes and we will get one! DD is our “Helpful Hardware Man.” I am holding off that season ticket purchase until I see what gives in that category.

The rest of the lineup has various holes or question marks that are popping up like spring weeds in my flower bed. Will Pablo Sandoval show up in camp not looking like a late career stand-in for Orson Wells? Is Rusney Castillo the new Pedro Cerrano? The Jackie Bradley mystery will be closely watched – failure or turn the professional corner? Will Dustin Pedroia play a 100 games?

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There is a nowhere man and that is Brock Holt. Holt just sits and waits with no apparent place on the diamond to stake a claim. Holt can play anywhere – so maybe he is “The Anywhere Man?” Holt is a gritty performer who generally does the right things on the field – which means in baseball parlance – he is not Manny Ramirez on the baseball intellectual scale.

Holt is now 27-years-old and has established himself as a “utility player.” Just my interpretation, but I find that term somewhat cryptic. Holt had 509 plate appearances in 2015 while being a baseball Swiss Knife or should that be Leatherman? I have always viewed utility as having a connotation of questioning adequacy and productiveness. Many fans still do.

Productiveness is the key. Fans love the home runs. Holt does not hit home runs with just two in 2015. If Holt ends up in the outfield you have Richie Ashburn or Matty Alou type power. The infield may be more comfortable, but first and third usually require some punch. So, Travis Shaw, Ramirez or Sandoval will have an edge.

In 2015, Holt was an All-Star and defused his second half slump of 2014 by putting up a respectable slash of .265/.311/.341 in the second half to finish at .280/.349/.379. Holt is an afterthought and as the line says: “take your time, don’t hurry.” And Holt will sit.

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Eventually, Holt will play since there are far too many question marks in the Red Sox menagerie for it to be a pristine season. Someone will fail and Holt will step in. Holt is the latter-day Billy Goodman in Boston. Goodman won a batting title while trying to find a permanent home on the diamond – not many batting champions are “utility players.”

When Holt is in the lineup good things can happen. Runners are moved over with an at bat Holt has given up, a base stolen with above average speed (only one CS), a key hit (.306 RISP in 2015) and some grinding at-bats. You may see Holt in a similar rotation as 2015 as a “Super Sub.” Which, to me, is a far more positive term for a player of Holt’s caliber. When Holt is in the line-up I do not view it as a step-down, but, quite possibly, a step up.

Next: Red Sox Bryce Brentz: Forgotten Depth

Holt is a great insurance policy – one of the best in baseball. Ben Zobrist without the power. Oops – that power thing again.