Red Sox mull options at third base

Red Sox mull options at third base
August 10, 2013, 12:15 pm
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KANSAS CITY – In 10 games since July 31, Red Sox third baseman have combined to go 5-for-37, batting .135 with five runs scored, three RBI, six strikeouts, three walks, and one error, leaving a combined 28 runners on base.  Brock Holt has gone 3-for-28 while Brandon Snyder is 2-for-9. The Sox are 6-4 in that stretch.
 
That stretch just happens to coincide with the departure of Jose Iglesias to Detroit in the three-team deal that brought right-hander Jake Peavy to the Sox. In seven games since then, Iglesias is batting just .208 for the Tigers -- well off the .330 mark he posted with the Sox over 63 games this season -- with one home run, a run scored, three RBI, and five strikeouts.
 
In 45 games since being sent to Pawtucket in June Will Middlebrooks is batting .268 with 10 home runs, 35 RBI, a .327 on-base percentage, and .464 slugging percentage.  In his last 10 games, Middlebrooks, the Sox Opening Day third baseman, is batting .316, going 12-for-38, with six runs scored, a double, two home runs, six RBI, three walks, 11 strikeouts, and  stolen base – good for an .857 OPS. He led the PawSox with 18 RBI in 26 July games.
 
The Sox were obviously not happy with Middlebrooks when they optioned him to Pawtucket on June 25.  Through 53 games at the time of his demotion, he was batting just .192 with nine home runs, 25 RBI, a .228 OBP, and .389 SLG. He missed 16 games from May 24 – June 10 with a low back strain. Perhaps his recent production with Pawtucket shows that he has learned from his time in the minor leagues this season.
 
Or perhaps it is time to call up Xander Bogaerts, who would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
 
After being promoted from Double-A Portland to Pawtucket on June 13, Bogaerts is hitting .289 with eight home runs and 27 RBI in 52 games.  He hit .311 in 26 games in July, with four home runs and 14 RBI. He made his AAA debut June 14, scoring the game-winning run in the first game of a doubleheader, hitting a two-run home run in the second game.   Since his promotion to Pawtucket he has appeared in 44 games at shortstop, seven at third base. He is an exciting player, offensively and defensively.  A scout recently said he thought Bogaerts has the highest ceiling among Sox prospects at the upper levels. But, Bogaerts is just 20 years old, the youngest player among all teams at the Triple-A level. Is it too soon to promote a player so young?
 
If a move is made, who becomes the odd man out?
 
Holt, who was acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Pirates that also brought closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston, still has options and could be sent back to Pawtucket. But the Sox like the versatility he offers and his ability to play three infield positions – although this season was his first playing third base professionally. Snyder, who was released by the Rangers at the end of spring training and signed with the Sox on April 2, is out of options. But at third base, he has also been out of position. He has appeared in 17 games, with 10 starts, at third this season.  Prior to this season, though, he had appeared in just seven games, with one start, at third, all last season with the Rangers. At the big league level, he has appeared in the most games, 27 with 17 starts, at first base. Of his 633 minor league games, just 86 have been at third base. He was a first-round pick by the Orioles in 2005 as a catcher. He has appeared in just one game behind the plate in the big leagues, last season with the Rangers, and 79 games in the minors.
 
Middlebrooks, Snyder, and Bogaerts bat right-handed, while Holt bats left-handed. The Sox could use some right-handed power.  Their righties this season are hitting .258 with a .332 OBP, and a .406 SLG, for a.737 OPS, compared to their left-handed batters who are hitting .289, with a .360 OBO and .470 SLG for an OPS of .830.
 
Whatever the answer is, the Sox should look for more production from a position that is virtually required to give more production.