By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
Star Red Sox short stop Xander Bogaerts reportedly has been placed on the 10 day disabled list for a non-displaced fracture of the talus bone in his ankle. He is only “expected” to be on the disabled list for “10-14 days” according to sources from within the Red Sox. However, those are the same people who told you that Pablo Sandoval was only “17% body fat.” So believe what you want to believe.
Bogaerts had been the best hitter on an offense which has been somewhat anemic at times aside from Hanley Ramirez. The veteran short stop hit a grand slam in Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, which effectively put the game out of reach. Not having his remarkably clutch bat in the lineup could prove to be a devastating blow.
Here are some scenarios to consider if the injury becomes more long term:
Nunez at SS / Lin at 2B (or vice versa)
This is appears to be the actual scenario being put into play by the Red Sox front office. Lin is obviously a solid defender, but lets face it, his bat will be nowhere near as effective as the one he’s replacing. Plugging him in as a regular everyday middle infielder leaves the offense much less adequate.
Betts at 2B / Martinez in LF / Benintendi in RF / Ramirez at DH / Sam Travis at 1B
Many of you will roll your eyes instantly at the sound of Mookie Betts assuming duties at second base. I know… I know. If you have read my blog for a while, you will know that I have been a huge proponent of making this move, which ideally would only be temporary. Either Bogaerts or Pedroia will return to the lineup in the not too distant future.
By slotting Betts in at second base, it allows you to add another power bat to the lineup. Certainly the Red Sox would sacrifice a small degree of defense in their outfield, as Mookie is a two time golden glover. However, having Martinez, JBJ, and Benintendi as your temporary core-outfield is far from terribly defensive trio.
Alex Cora could always flip JBJ to right field if he believes his cannon of an arm is more valuable there. Benintendi typically plays center field when Martinez gets slotted into left, so there’s no lack of familiarity there. Also, Sam Travis and Hanley could be flip flopped between first base and DH.
Travis has essentially already proven he is major league ready, and has hit well for contact during his brief call ups. In 2017 he hit .295 while with playing with the Red Sox, but did not hit a single home run. However, to be fair, he was coming off of major knee surgery, and had his power on full display during this year’s spring training with a team leading six home runs. Not to mention he has previously been a power hitter at every stage of his career. Calling Travis up offers very little risk whatsoever, there just simply has been no room for him until now.
Making this series of moves would be considered by many observers as a bold strategy. And most bold strategies often are not initially popular until they are proven to be successful. Remember Adrian Gonzales playing right field for Boston during the 2012 season? Whoever would have foresaw Jason Kipnis playing center field for the Cleveland Indians during a high stakes ALDS matchup against the Yankees last October? Smart managers like Joe Maddon and Terry Francona often have made bold moves.
The Red Sox could easily add a power bat to their outfield or corner infield. There are plenty of power players within their system who can fill those positions. But there is NOT one single second baseman from within Boston’s system who can provide a surge in power at that position, except for Betts.
Having an infield from left to right consisting of Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez, Mookie Betts, and Ramirez/Travis could potentially be one of the most explosive in all of MLB. Additionally, an outfield of J.D. Martinez, JBJ, and Andrew Benintendi could provide plenty of bombs as well.
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