"Looking at our payroll, we thought, hey, why not put only eight men on the field. I mean, how many hits a game really do go to the shortstop? That many? Oh, shoot.” - Red Sox GM Ben Cherington after trading Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for groundballer Clayton Mortensen*.
It’s a position the Red Sox are used to, primarily playing the disappointing Julio Lugo and Nick Green at the position between 2007 and 2009. Considering that the Red Sox made the postseason each year with those chuckleheads installed there and have missed the playoffs each year with Scutaro, I guess you could defend the move. But that would be if you ignored all other facts and decided that Marco Scutaro was the lone deficiency on the Red Sox these last two years, rather than the equivalent of a slightly above average shortstop as ranked by fWAR (5.3 since 2010).
After trading away infield-tweener and accident waiting to happen Jed Lowrie earlier in the offseason, the Red Sox are prepared to play Mike Aviles, who wasn’t good enough to start for the Royals, and Nick Punto who may be the grittiest (meaning white and bunt-happy) player currently in the Major Leagues. Even more troubling is that both players combined to play only 151 innings at the position last season. The Red Sox do have Jose Iglesias and his amazing glove in the minor leagues, but according to many evaluators including Kevin Goldstein, his bat just isn’t ready for the Major Leagues.
As for Clayton Mortensen, he’ll be joining his fourth team since 2009, nothing that bodes well for a player’s success. While Mortensen gets his fair share of groundballs, he walks close to 4 batters per nine innings, doesn’t strike many batters out (4.7/9 in 95 Major League innings) and may struggle to be anything but a long man in the AL East.
Perhaps Ben Cherington has a plan in place to find a replacement at short or maybe the extra cash on hand will allow the team to pursue Roy Oswalt, but both the bottom of the order and the middle of the diamond could get very messy for the Red Sox next year.
*not a real quote.
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