Will Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval do what is necessary to restore his career?
In 1975, the Boston Red Sox had the arrival of the “Gold Dust Twins” of Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, who sparked the Red Sox into the World Series – minus Rice at the end with a broken wrist. Nevertheless, they both provided some scintillating moments that first season and beyond. A baseball Batman and Robin from a farm system cornucopia that has been difficult to match.
In 2015, the Red Sox brought in another pair of “Twins” with far less impressive results. Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez followed a different path and that was the mantra of the pocketbook where as free agents where both were given the deal of deals by Ben Cherington. The magnitude of their combined failure is well documented as in all aspects of the game related to offense and defense with their joint efforts making dismal seem like a positive statement. Why rehash the statistics? What it may have accomplished is sending Cherington to academic exile.
Ramirez apparently is engaged in a determined effort to show that 2015 was not a trend, but an illusion. BSI’s Jorge Camargo recently wrote about Hanley’s possible winter ball play. Hanley has met with Director of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski to discuss conditioning and his apparent move to first base. The bottom line is Ramirez is putting into place all the items necessary to be put back on a positive career path.
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I will admit that I have been less than kind to Sandoval during the season and even before the season. I thought the signing would be a disaster and even I occasionally have a prediction that is rather lucid. With me, it was not the money, but the weight and conditioning, two items that were only magnified during 2015.
Being in the holiday spirit and one who is willing to forgive (not forget, however), I am waiting anxiously for Panda moments just like Hanley moments. Twitter, articles, baseball gossip and anything else that demonstrates that Sandoval is engaged in a serious effort to show up in spring training looking like a baseball player and not a nose tackle.
With Sandoval, the Red Sox had a defense at third that set standards for ineptness for American League hot corner practitioners. Butch Hobson – a truly awful defensive player – was possibly (and I hyperbole) Brooks Robinson compared to Panda. The defense is simply unacceptable.
I’ll give Sandoval an expensive Mulligan for 2015, with the caveat that in ST he actually resembles a bipedal mammal and not a waterborne one. If Panda shows he has made amends for the 2015 disaster, he will certainly deserve props. If not, I will certainly join the chorus that says the Red Sox just need to cut bait and accept dead money.
Panda just may be the key to the 2016 Red Sox and I hope it isn’t a blank.