Red Sox Pablo Sandoval Not Helping His Cause
Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has heard the criticism, which hasn’t slowed down since last season. However, does he have to make it this hard?
Scott Lauber of ESPN recently reported that Sandoval’s performance in a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays was not exactly what he and Red Sox Nation were hoping for:
"“Sandoval made two errors in the fourth inning to help the Rays score two unearned runs against reliever Noe Ramirez. On the first miscue Sandoval made a low throw that handcuffed Hanley Ramirez despite his attempt to backhand the ball, a technique the Red Sox want to see from the novice first baseman. Three batters later Sandoval was unable to handle a short hop.”"
This effort would normally not be that big of a deal for any other third baseman, as it is still very early in spring training and the athletes need to catch their rhythm of the game again. However, when said player is the plump Venezuelan, the errors magnify other issues.
It’s no secret that the 255 lbs that Sandoval is officially listed as weighing is possibly, even likely, a generous measurement. Based on the many pictures taken of Sandoval when he came to spring training in Fort Myers, Florida, not a great deal of hope was spreading around in the stands that 2016 would be a year of redemption for the eight-year veteran. The three-time World Series champion scored a .949 fielding percentage last season, lower than the .958 league percentage for third basemen. Not exactly a great start to get Sandoval in the good books of the Fenway Park faithful.
And it wasn’t helped too much by his bat either. Sandoval hit just .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs. He was brought in to stabilize the third base position, but all he did was make it a gaping wound in the hot corner for a total of $17.6 million in free agent money. The kicker is that he also has another $72.4 million of guaranteed money awaiting him in the next few years.
Sandoval isn’t the first Major League Baseball player to be overweight; the problem is that his lack of production, both offensively and defensively, hasn’t dictated any respect from his doubters, at least not to justify the money that the Red Sox are paying for his services.
Now, watching Sandoval being hunched over and committing errors in 2016 is an even bigger pill to swallow for Red Sox Nation. Boston has blue-collar mentality flowing through its veins, and if Sandoval at least looked like he was putting the work in then leniency may be possible. Possibly. However, Sandoval not losing weight may have been taken a bit better had he proven early that he could move his mass quickly to the ball, with his bat or glove. So far, he hasn’t been able to do it.
Sandoval still has time, but that window is closing very soon. He can stay at 255 lbs. or he can grow another 300 lbs. for all anyone in Boston cares, but he must be able to produce if he wants the pressure cooker to lighten up. Plays like in recent games are just not helping his cause.