BOSTON (CBS) — Some of us make a living of reading into things, so take this all for what it’s worth. But when Red Sox manager John Farrell said the following recently, well, alarm bells went off.
Or maybe they were more like loud, screaming sirens.
“I can tell you, the energy in the dugout and some of the comments, whether it’s ‘Linny’ or ‘Linsanity,’ whatever it might be … there’s a side thing that’s going on here that we can’t turn away from,” Farrell said of newcomer Tzu-Wei Lin, according to the Boston Globe. “We recognize it.”
So again, that’s what Farrell said.
Here’s what I heard: “Pablo Sandoval weighs the team down.”
Earth to the Red Sox: don’t be stupid. Reports surfaced again yesterday that the Red Sox are among the teams scouting (and being scouted by) the Miami Marlins, who are prepared to trade, among others, third baseman Martin Prado. Chicago White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier is likely available. The same has been said for Kansas Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, though Kansas City is now back in the race.
And you know who the Red Sox should acquire? None of them.
The best addition they can make is the continued subtraction of Sandoval.
True fact: the Red Sox have had a pair of six-game winning streaks this season that ultimately have been the difference in their season. (They are precisely 12 games over .500 with just three games remaining before the All-Star break.) And you know what the common denominator of those winnings streaks is? The absence of Sandoval, who has been on the disabled list both times.
A coincidence? Maybe. Or not. When Sandoval returned for his most recent stint at the end of May, the Red Sox certainly were letting it be known that they had reached the end of their rope. Team broadcasters were suggesting, on air, that Sandoval was getting a last chance. Then Pablo failed again and the Red Sox reversed field like nobody’s business, with Farrell going so far as to insist (and we’re paraphrasing) that Pablo was their guy and that they were going to work him through it.
Then Sandoval came up with a phantom ear infection that landed him on the DL and an accompanying rehab assignment, triggering anew the never-ending scavenger hunt that has led them to Lin.
Can Lin play? Heaven knows. He’s probably a fluke. But what we do know is that he plays hard, runs well, functions defensively and has good at-bats. The Red Sox are 6-2 when Lin starts (against right-handed pitching). He has reached base in all eight and has walked six times. By comparison – or contrast – Sandoval has eight walks in 32 games.
But again, that’s the baseball. Farrell’s comment above speaks to something altogether different, namely a vibe. The team feels different. And before we turn Lin into something he’s not – a star – let’s all agree that this likely has more to do with the absence of Sandoval than anything else.
Think about it: when Pablo is around, what’s the storyline? The answer: failure. There’s talk of that five-year, $95 million contract, of which the Red Sox just passed the halfway point. (Scary.) There’s Pablo’s weight. There’s Pablo’s brutal defense. There’s Pablo’s lack of plate discipline. There’s the complete uselessness of having Pablo on the roster, highlighted by a game earlier this season in which the Red Sox had to use three players – three – to hide his weaknesses.
And does anyone seriously think they want to bring him back?
Let’s make this clear: none of us knows if Lin can play well. But what we can say for certain is that the platoon of Lin and Deven Marrero is better than Sandoval because, at the very least, Lin and Marrero play hard and make relatively few mistakes, particularly on defense. The bulk of the credit goes to Lin because he bats left-handed and gets the majority of starts, but the truth is that this all has less to do with Lin and Marrero than it does with Pablo.
You tell me.
But it sure feels like the Red Sox are a heck of a lot more successful – and a heck of a lot more fun – without a black-and-white spotted beanbag that seems to weigh them down like a gluttonous panda.
But that’s just me.