Iglesias in majors could have domino effect

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Iglesias in majors could have domino effect

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the Red Sox internally debate the wisdom of opening the season with Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop, another question looms in the background:

If Iglesias begins the 2011 season as the starter, what becomes of Mike Aviles?

All along, it was presumed that Aviles would be the choice and that he would hold down the position at least for the first couple of months. But Valentine's evaluation of Iglesias has changed the dynamic.

Iglesias's athleticism, range and instincts have convinced Valentine that he -- and not Aviles -- should be the regular.

Such a move has its risks, but it also leaves Aviles without a regular position and leaves the Red Sox, for the time being, with two utility infielders -- Aviles and Nick Punto.

Punto was signed to a two-year deal last winter to provide depth and experience in the infield. But though Aviles is a much better offensive player, the Sox would find themselves with some duplication.

From a sheer numbers perspective, the Sox could carry all three infielders -- Iglesias, Aviles and Punto -- on the roster for the first few weeks as outfielder Carl Crawford recovers from wrist surgery.

But when Crawford returns, the Sox would have 14 position players. It's doubtful that Valentine would want to limit himself to an 11-man pitching staff, especially with so many question marks surrounding the staff.

Even if the Sox worked in some outfield play for Aviles -- and remember, they sent him to play winter ball in Puerto Rico with the idea that he could perhaps contribute in right -- they would have hard a time justifying having Aviles on the roster.

The Sox signed Cody Ross as a righthanded-hitting outfielder and envision him playing much of the time in right.

Boston could shop either Punto or Aviles, but each scenario has some drawbacks.

Because Punto is a newly signed free agent, he would have to give permission to be dealt elsewhere before June 15. Having liked Boston enough to commit to a two-year deal -- rare for a role player -- that permission might not be forthcoming.

The Sox could also deal Aviles to a team looking for infield depth. The Milwaukee Brewers are one such team looked for some insurance in the middle of the infield. His 1.2 million salary would not be an obstacle in getting a deal done.

However, the Sox need to ask themselves what would happen if they dealt Aviles and Iglesias then flopped or got injured. That would leave them with only Punto as an everyday answer, and while the journeyman is a fine player coming off the bench, he is hardly an everyday shortstop for a contender.

Finally, there would be this to consider: for a team which has had a veritable revolving door at shortstop since it traded away Nomar Garciaparra in July of 2004, the Sox could claim the distinction of having traded three shortstops -- Jed Lowrie, Marco Scutaro and Mike Aviles -- in the same off-season.

Clearly, there will be plenty of repercussions if Iglesias wins the shortstop competition. Determining what to do with the player who lost out to him is only one of many.

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Bart Scott: Falcons have 'the better quarterback' in Super Bowl

Former Ravens and Jets linebacker - now an "NFL Today" analyst for CBS - Bart Scott usually "can't wait" to make his disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots known. 

He was back at it Tuesday in an interview with CBS Radio's Damon Amendolara, in which he said the Falcons have the better quarterback heading into Super Bowl LI.

“We know they’re the better offense, and right now, you could say they got the better quarterback because they have the MVP of the league,” Scott said. Ryan is the favorite to win the NFL MVP, which will be announced the night before the Super Bowl at the "NFL Honors" show.

“Now that’s a debate, but Matt Ryan has earned the right for his name to be put up there with the upper-echelon quarterbacks," Scott said. "He’s always been elite in the regular season, but now he’s taken this show into the postseason and he’s won the hard battles against the elite quarterbacks and now you have to give him his due.”

More from Scott: “I can’t see the Patriots stopping this offense. So, that means that these receivers are going to have to [keep] pace. It’s all going to come down to what it always comes down to. It’s going to come down to who makes the turnovers, who gets up early and puts the pressure on the other team. Matt Ryan and that offense showed me a lot when they went behind [in the divisional round against the Seahawks]. Seattle came and busted them in the face, and [Atlanta] went right back down and answered immediately.

"The Patriots always find a way, but I think it makes it more close of a game than what people think.”

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while rooting for “Manchester By the Sea” to upset some favorites at the Oscars.

*Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews top the annual NHL coaches' poll produced by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.

*The oral history of Fox’s glowing puck used for the NHL during their run with the league is an entertaining one.

*Mike Babcock gives pep talks to the reporters along with his own players while running the show in Toronto.

*The Vegas Golden Knights are moving forward with their timetable toward hiring a coach with some good candidates out there now, and some other ones potentially available soon. I’ve wondered if Claude Julien would be interested in that spot if he’s let go by the Bruins this season, but the one sure thing is that he wouldn’t be out of work long if he is relieved of his duties.

*Claude Giroux needs to start playing a little more fearlessly and without dwelling on mistakes, according to his general manager.

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t believe that fancy stats and analytics have had a major impact on the way the Wings do things.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the rundown on a Millenial’s dream of performers at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen.

*For something completely different: keeping an eye on the notion that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President.