Red Sox Retool? Scutaro trade leaves gaping hole

22 Jan

There is little secret that the Rockies coveted Marco Scutaro for the past few seasons – and why wouldn’t they? He can play any position pretty much, aside from catching and pitching, and he is capable of carrying his own weight offensively. At $6m season, he’s a relative bargain among shortstops with a similar pedigree. Why did Boston trade him then? There are several reasons why:

1. John Lackey is a total failure as a Red Sox – and now out for all of 2012

2. Dice-K has been a total failure the last 2 years with the Red Sox – and is now out all of 2012

3. Jose Iglesias – He of the stellar glove, slightly above average arm and total inability to hit, is the SS of the Future for the Sox – and that is apparently right now.

4. Theo Epstein – Theo Loved Scutaro and thought he was of value and a stabilizing factor in the infield – but now, Theo is inChicago calling the shots.

5. Ben Cherrington – The new Red Sox GM. Ben is more concerned with clearing money off the table by trading Scutaro than having a SS that will likely have a prayer of being ranked better than #23 in the MLB.

6. Bobby Valentine – Bobby V. likes young flashy looking players (That he can make an impression on and mold as his own ..*shudder*). He doesn’t always look for the best as opposed to the most compliant. Worked great in Japan, not so much here usually.

7. Clayton Mortensen – the player Scutaro was traded for. He’s a pitcher and he’s really, really inexpensive!

8. Roy Oswalt – Because so much of the Boston rotation is a question mark or out for the year – and Boston seemed to have a reliever fetish stopping just shy of signing 9 year old’s that closed out games in Little League last summer, Boston dropped the ball on the rotation. Hence, they now need extra $$ to entice Oswalt to play where he doesn’t want to be.

This is all very odd to see Boston operate like the A’s. They have the money to keep Scutaro and pursue Oswalt, his mother, and few of his neighbors and anyone else they want. The idea of clearing salary space in this manner is not only a strange new wrinkle – it makes no sense. Iglesias is rated by pretty much everyone as all glove, no hit. In the minors was usually about a .240 hitter.  Jose is a .250 hitter at best when mature in a few years.

What can Sox fans expect?

Iglesias will make the routine plays, an occasional highlight reel and plenty of mental errors for a season or two. His physical skills are unquestioned, his attentiveness is which also manifests in his lack of plate discipline, Iglesis can do things, he just often wanders off mentally and forgets to do them. He might hit in the .235 range if everything goes right down in the #9 hole – and that is making the huge leap of faith he can hit in the show to the same level he did in the minors – otherwise he is at or below the Mendoza line. That isn’t to be humorous – that’s real. He will not walk. Maybe 4/100 PA’s – not ABs which is a less accurate measure. He has speed and can steal bases, but he never gets on base so that skill set is wasted. Even when he does, he gets picked 25% of the time – not horrible, but if speed is your only offensive weapon it needs to be more refined. Also, he can’t bunt his way out of a wet paper bag. He doesn’t have the pop to drive deep sac flies. Worst of all, he doesn’t do well sitting on the bench which he will have to get over fast or mature equally fast to avoid.

Think of his offensive value this way – he has less total bases than games played. Just a walk, HBP, error or whatever with an SB or something sprinkled in now and then would get him to a 1/1 ratio, but it doesn’t happen because he sometimes goes days or a week without getting on base – and yeah – I actually sat in the stands and watched him play in AAA – this kid is not going to make it as anything but a utility player if he can’t learn to hit. Scutaro was a +54. Jeter a +81. Even Elvis Andrus, who is basically a glove guy, was +62.

What was Ben thinking? Scutaro at $6m was performing to the level of a $12m+ player and posting career highs. He was getting the job done and then some. He was traded for a kid that may not do more than mop-up or spot start for 2-3 years if ever – at least with the Sox. Iglesias will play stellar defense and be an automatic out – which will really suck if Saltalamachia is in the lineup too. Was it worth it – trading veteran offense and slightly + defense for great defense and zero offense just to get younger and cheaper?

What I fear is that Iglesias will be so over matched at the plate that it carries over to the field and he loses a tiny bit of value there. It’s hard to shake off an 0’fer, much less an 0’fer that lasts a week in front of the Fenway Faithful. Compound that by the memory of Scutaro and Lowrie being fresh and it is even worse for the kid. I think he’s being rushed – and while he may shock the heck out of me and play well, my guess is that he implodes. I don’t wish that on him, but I can’t see him being game ready for at least two years  – and then only as a hybrid of Ozzie Smith’s glove and Buddy Biancalana’s bat.

Weigh in and tell me why I’m right or wrong?

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