Spring Training has officially begun since pitchers and catchers reported to camp today for the Red Sox and their first workout will be tomorrow. The Red Sox lineup is all but set around the field but the remaining question marks revolve around third base and first base. Right now, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are the players being groomed to man the corners of the diamond. Both players were signed last offseason for healthy salaries but both underperformed.
Ramirez tested the outfield after being a career shortstop/third baseman and that experiment did not end well, compiling a -19 Rfield statistic. Rfield calculates how many runs against the league average were added or saved by a specific player. Now Boston has shifted their focus for Hanley to first base, a positional move that Hanley seems to be excited about unlike his stint in the outfield. Although he shows unlikely aspirations of a Gold Glove, I expect Hanley to do well at first thanks to his corner infield experience at third. With all that being said, first base is not an easy position to master let alone learn over the duration of a spring training but if the excitement and motivation are present I expect HanRam to turn it around this season both defensively and offensively. If he can’t turn it around soon Travis Shaw is nipping at his heels and since this year’s Sox roster could be special John Farrell won’t stick with something that isn’t working.
Now at the opposite side of the diamond Pablo Sandoval is coming off a rough year both offensively, defensively, socially (liking an Instagram photo mid-game) and for the most part just in general. Sandoval went from switch-hitter to not hitting. The Panda batted a mere 0.245, with a -15 Rbat, a -26 RAA (Runs Against Average) and a -11 Rfield having career lows in both Rbat and RAA (Average in all mentioned metrics is ‘0’ and positive is good, negative not so much). I think that the Red Sox’s patience with Sandoval is running thin and with one-time All Star Brock Holt at the beck and call, Pablo will be on a short leash for the 2016 season. Having said that, I also think that Pablo Sandoval will improve on last season, mostly because it will be kind of hard to do worse but still.
The Red Sox roster this season is too talented to not find success, even if Hanley and Pablo can’t figure it out their replacements will, and if not their replacements will. If Shaw and Holt can’t then prospects Marco Hernandez, Sean Coyle or Deven Marrero maybe can. Either way, we will not find out until April 4th when the Sox take on the Indians on Opening Day.
Cover Photo via The Boston Herald
GIFs via MLB.com, NESN, CBS Sports, Sons of Sam Horn