So the inevitable has happened: Stephen Drew's been activated and Jose Iglesias is on his way back to Pawtucket.
To which I say, simply:
The knock on Jose Iglesias is simple: He can't hit. Or, to put it another way: He CAN'T HIT. Yet, by going 9-for-20 over the last eight days -- with five of those nine being either infield singles or bunts -- he's apparently convinced some in our little corner of the world that he's the answer to whatever questions we have at shortstop. Certainly more, they say, than that dastardly Drew, who, in finest family tradition, couldn't even wait until the season started before making his way to the DL.
Can we inject a little sanity into this debate, please?
Jose Iglesias is a world-class defensive shortstop. Of that, there can be no question. He doesn't have to hit much to be valuable to the Red Sox. However, he has to hit something. Up to this point in his career, he's given no indication that he's up to even that modest task.
It's not just the execrable .118 he batted in 25 games with the Sox last year. How about the .266/.318/.308 slash line he authored at Pawtucket last year? Or the mind-blowing .235/.285/.269 of 2011? Where, anywhere, in these numbers do the words "major-league-caliber hitter" appear?
And before the stat-geek charges begin to fly, Iet me say that -- unlike most of the Iglesias boosters -- I've actually seen the guy play. Multiple times. Believe me, those putrid batting statistics were honestly earned. In maybe a dozen games, I didn't see Iglesias hit more than a handful of balls to the left of second base. He was getting tied up and overpowered by Triple-A meatball artists, guys whose fastballs couldn't get ticketed for speeding on the interstate.
Which is why when I hear people say, "They should have given Iglesias the job over the winter and not signed Drew" -- and even some who want Iglesias sent down are singing this tune, under the "I wouldn't have signed Drew but now that he's here you have to play him" clause -- I'm speechless. You wanted to hand him the job?? Based on WHAT?!? Offensive numbers that, had he not been signed to a $6.25 million signing bonus in 2009, would have gotten him released two years ago? Be thankful the American educational system doesn't operate that way. ("Yeah, you flunked the course and you got a 28 on the final exam, but, hey, go on to the next grade!")
So when Iglesias defenders indignantly ask, "Why did the Red Sox sign Drew in the first place?", the answer couldn't be more simple: "BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE A SHORTSTOP!"
But now we're to believe these years of sins have been wiped away by 9 hits -- 5 of them of the infield/bunt variety -- in 20 at-bats.
Give me a break.
Look, contrary to how all this sounds, I'm not a Jose Iglesias-hater. I like him. A lot. I'd love to see the magic he could weave in the field, the runs he could save, the help he could give this pitching staff. If I thought for one second that this .450 average was an honest indicator of offensive improvement, I'd be leading the "Keep him!" chorus.
But 20 at-bats mean nothing. Nothing. In order for Jose Iglesias to become the Red Sox starting shortstop, he's going to have to show that he's a better hitter than what he's been. The place for him to show that is the minor leagues.
Go down, Jose. Learn better plate discipline. Display a little gap power. Make the adjustments necessary to earn -- truly earn -- a major-league job.
Prove that your defenders are just premature, and not delusional.