The Red Sox and Pablo Sandoval divorce is no surprise
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox and Pablo Sandoval saga has finally reached a conclusion. This is another article on the famous pastime – the blame game.
Bad decisions in baseball are no different from bad decisions in everyday life. The divorce rate exceeds the success rate in marriage in the United States. Our news is glutted with the frailties of our politicians, business leaders and just average Joe and Janes. Mistakes are part of life and that is why we have insurance. People simply screw up.
Ben Cherington screwed up and screwed up in a very big way – big as in the physical and contract size of Pablo Sandoval. The warning signs were present with Sandoval’s history in San Fransisco with a weight gain and loss that matched that of Oprah Winfrey. This is also a shining moment for Red Sox Nation and the media with a “You should have listened to us.”
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So this is another Sandoval article. I have written several and my Word Perfect has numerous titles the last three years to cover the various Sandoval pronouncements. A Neverending Story that may have finally ended. This will be my last since I have now joined SA (Sandoval Anonymous) and taken a pledge.
Almost universally the idea of Panda to Boston was rejected. I am sure there may be a few holdouts, but they are probably now in a witness protection program, denying all and simply blaming everything on the Russians.
The Red Sox had a perfect storm with the Sandoval situation. Boston had money, a pressing need at third base and a chance of a potential marketing gold mine with the lovable Panda. Sandoval was a huge (pun intended) fan favorite with the Giants, but also one who did have skirmishes with management over his personal habits – habits that would make the manager of an all you can eat buffet watch his bottom line vaporize into a bottomless pit.
So much for Sandoval bashing. Yes – I enjoy such mundane and obvious broadsides at a well-known target, but Sandoval deserves some credit. Yes – credit and no pun intended – a mountain of credit. Sandoval by all accounts was a solid citizen in the clubhouse. There was that nasty incident regarding an in-game text, but Sandoval accepted responsibility and offered up no excuses. Sandoval also did what was finally expected and got in shape for his employers.
Sandoval showed up to 2017 spring training in shape. Physically repaired and ready to return on that $95 Million investment. The stories about Sandoval’s weight loss were actually valid and he did look considerably less hefty.
Sandoval hit in ST at a .338 clip and with power – five home runs and 20 RBI. Never a nimble third baseman in his later career, yet still making the expected plays and throws. The Red Sox were expecting this and had shipped Travis Shaw to the Brewers for another no-show pitcher – Tyler Thornburg. Then Panda crashed.
What is obvious at this juncture is the real demise of Sandoval is simply declining skills. Thirty-years-old is beginning stages of baseball middle age and Sandoval had reached that. Performance levels certainly point to Sandoval being an “old” age 30 and not ready to tack on a few prime and productive years. His skills have eroded to where the even independent ball may represent a challenge. So I applaud the Red Sox courage to admit a mistake and divorce themselves from Sandoval.
Now it is over unless there is some dramatic change in Sandoval’s willingness to return to the minors. That is very doubtful. Cherington can take on responsibility and it was a costly one that may have been crucial in his own separation from the Red Sox.
Next: Five lowest points of Sandoval's Boston tenure
The positive for Boston is that the money is a tragic loss, but not one that disables the franchise for several years. This is Boston and that means a revenue flow like a fiscal Niagara Falls. The Red Sox can just move on with a nice tax write off and a real albatross on their luxury tax.