BOSTON (CBS) — Travis Shaw is almost literally on fire this spring. He’s batting .441 with two homers and nine RBIs, and he’s making life difficult for manager John Farrell heading into the regular season.
Of course, if contracts and salaries were all equal, Farrell’s job might actually be made easier by such a development. Alas, with Pablo Sandoval entering year two of a five-year, $95 million pact, and with Hanley Ramirez entering year two of a four-year, $88 million deal, it’d be hard for Farrell to simply put the best player in the starting lineup.
But, as Peter Abraham noted on Toucher & Rich, there is a potential solution that could work for all parties involved. And it all hinges on whether Shaw can handle playing in the outfield, where he’ll start to get some work this week.
“He hasn’t played a whole lot of left field in his career. I think it was three innings in the big leagues last year and maybe four starts in Pawtucket,” Abraham said. “So they need to first figure out if he can play left field, because as we saw last year [with Hanley], that’s not an automatic. And if he can play left field, they could almost split the difference and say, ‘OK, Sandoval’s the third baseman, but we’re going to play Shaw three or four times a week. He’s going to get a start at first, a start in left, and two starts at third,’ or whatever it might be. So they could sort of appease both sides of it by doing that.”
It’s a solid idea, with one important caveat.
“The first thing they have to do is figure out if he can play left,” Abraham said, “because I don’t think anybody knows that. They haven’t really tried it yet.”
In addition to the contract roadblocks that make starting Shaw at third base difficult, Abraham added that Sandoval really wouldn’t make much of a bench player, thus complicating matters.
“What do you do with Sandoval if you don’t start him? Because he’s a useless bench player,” Abraham said. “He can’t run, he’s not a defensive replacement, he’s not really much help to you unless he’s actually playing third base. It’s a weird thing, because if they bench him, I don’t know what they do with him. At least you would think they want to give him some time to settle in and be productive. This was a guy who was a pretty good player until he got to Boston, and they gave him a lot of money, and I don’t think they’re going to release him with $75 million left on his contract. So if you don’t play him, I don’t really know what the next step is. It’s an interesting next two weeks, when they figure out what they want to do with this.”
Listen to the full interview, with a guest cameo from Dan Roche and some talk about David Ortiz’s comments on bat flips, below: