The BoSox Injection staff’s preview of the Boston Red Sox 25-man roster continues with a look at Pablo Sandoval.
Was there any positive for Sandoval in 2015? There was the public humiliation of texting during a game and the professional humiliation of being removed from a game over conditioning issues. Comedian David Letterman once referred to Terry Forster “As a fat tub of goo.” An appropriate designation for Panda.
Is there a correlation between conditioning and performance? For Sandoval, he was simply the bottom of the metric and standard statistical barrel for third basemen in 2015. And by third basemen, it is all of major league baseball. The abysmal UZR/150 was -21.9 and Panda was, unfortunately, the runaway “winner.” The WAR on offense was -2.0, so maybe a composite player cobbled together by I-Robot should have been placed at third? The WAR was also another category in which Sandoval had meager competition.
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The past is what it is and 2016 means another page in what could be a story about free agency disaster or a resounding recovery. A return to the Sandoval that was once a significant contributor to three World Series Championships for the Giants would certainly erase any negative vibes from 2015. That certainly worked well for the professional rehabilitation of John Lackey. Spring training will show – and I do mean show – what that path may be.
The first show will be if the tidbits of reports are correct and Sandoval will make an appearance where he no longer resembles a stand-in for the Michelin Man. Last spring the early photos had the expected impact on Red Sox Nation. So if Panda comes in lighter the assumption will be there is some serious attitude on his part and that can only portend good things – possibly.
If Sandoval presents himself as a top finisher in Mr. Universal and then continues a spiral downward into the depths of statistical and observational disaster, then the trend will be readily apparent and the second part of spring training show will start to take root. A very short leash in April.
Expect Sandoval to start at third base in April unless injury intervenes. The position will be his, but it will be all performance based. If the hitting is back to 2011 standards even the occasional lapse in the field will be manageable even to petulant pitchers. If Travis Shaw and Brock Holt are playing third base in June then the questions on Sandoval have been answered. Expect the Red Sox to not display a significant amount of patience and if the initial results are depressing and simply have another notch in the fiscal ledger under “Dead Money.”