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Is Jose Iglesias the Next Starting Shortstop for the Red Sox?

AP Photo/David Goldman

The Red Sox seem to change shortstops on a yearly basis. Every year it’s a new face. Every year they find a guy who actually ends up being pretty good (Orlando Cabrera, Mike Aviles, Alex Gonzales) and every year they ship him out like nothing happened. Jose Iglesias could be the end of this revolving door at the shortstop position. But it’s not going to come without a price; a very, very frustrating price. He cannot hit to save his life.

The Sox are very high on Iglesias, too. They want him to be the starting shortstop. And I don’t know if they think they have the next Ozzie Smith, but they certainly do have a future Gold Glove winner. But right now, that’s all he is, a glove with no bat. His regular playing time at the end of 2012 just showed how absolutely atrocious he is when it came to hitting. He hit .118 and struck out during a quarter of his at-bats.

I don’t know how many of you Sox fans are going to have the patience for this Iglesias fella, but you’re going to have to suck it up and wait. It’s going to take time for him to learn major league hitting, if he even figures it out at all. But if he can get that average up to the .240s or even 250s, it’ll be well worth the wait. If the Red Sox stick with him, he’ll be one of the most interesting cases this team has had in a while. He’ll dazzle fans with his glove and then boil their blood with his bat. I love a good defensive shortstop. Players like Bill Russell and Mark Belanger, two great defensive shortstops with small bats, were obviously very valuable to the teams they played for. I would love if Iglesias turns out like any of these two players.

In my opinion, a shortstop’s job is to make plays and help get outs. If he isn’t that great of a hitter, then that’s what the nine-spot is for. I absolutely think that Iglesias is the best option right now and is at least worth a try. 2013 is going to be a bridge year; I don’t care what anyone says. And that’s what teams do during bridge years; they experiment a little. They try new things and see who works out and who doesn’t, without spending $50 million in the process.

Other Possibilities

The Red Sox do still have a few different options if they really want to go out and get a guy to platoon with Iglesias. There’s a low cost player out on the market right now. He played for the Blue jays for seven years and many of you may remember him:  John McDonald, the 38-year-old out of Arizona. He could be the best option if the Sox decided to do things this way and let Iglesias learn off the bench instead of as a starter.

I just don’t see the years and cash going to players like Marco Scutaro, Stephen Drew, Yuniesky Betancourt or Jhonny Peralta. Each one of these players could easily demand up to four years. These are not deals that the Sox should consider if they are in fact gearing up for a lineup with Iglesias in it. Also, I advise everyone to count out Elvis Andrus or any other kind of blockbuster trade that could potential send Ellsbury and prospects to another team for a shortstop. I don’t think so. Do me a huge favor and ignore any of these rumors; it’s not going to happen.

Wait and See

Iglesias hit over .300 in August down in Pawtucket and .266 overall during the time he spent there in 2012. It didn’t translate into much during the time he spent with the big club, but it isn’t anything to really pull your hair out if you’re a fan. Sure, it’s going to be very frustrating to watch, but who knows what’s going to come out of it. If he can manage to duplicate even a fraction of those minor league numbers, then the Red Sox will have made a very, very smart move sticking with this kid.

A lot of fans are going to hate this, but they are going to have to learn to develop a “wait and see” attitude. It’s not something we’re used to around here, but 2013 may be a great time to give it a shot.

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