Re: A Realistic View at 2013: Part II
posted at 2/25/2013 8:41 AM EST
Xander is putting up the best offensive numbers we have seen in many years from a 20 year old in AA ball. I mean let's put this in perspective. Who has put up better numbers at that young an age at the AA level in the Redsox organization in at least 10 years? Even Ellsbury was 23 or so when he tore up AA ball and then it was with little pop. And Xander is a shortstop. Think of the value we have there. He is looking at least as good as Hanley was in the minors. In fact, better than Hanley was offensively in the minors.
Leave the kid at SS. He is a foundational player potentially. Even a Bryce Harper level talent potentially. Yes, POTENTIALLY that good. I'm not counting on that of course but his career numbers do parallel those of Harper's in the minors. He's a shortstop who can be a middle of the order bat. That is the kind of talent championship teams are built around. Replacing that in free agency could cost over $100 mil if he pans out at his current projection pace. Getting that level of production out of the SS position is a game changer.
I don't care who they have to trade. Leave him at SS. We can get a good hitting 1st baseman for a heck of a lot less exensive talent than Middlebrooks or Bogaerts would potentially represent. If Xander turns out to be a # 3 hitter and Middlebrooks is a # 5 slot guy we still have LF, 1st base and DH for additional middle of the order studs. We need those sorts of players to develop if we are going to be a top level team going forward.
I'm not saying XB will never become an above average fielding SS, but if he becomes the hitter you seem to think he will be, then he can be a huge plus anywhere he plays, so why not play him where he is best suited? If that turns out to be 3B, 1B OF or SS, then that is where he should eventually end up. Playing SS might actually take something away from his hitting, but that is hard to quantify.
I love the idea of having a SS or Catcher that can hit. They are usually poor offensive positions, and if you can get big production from those positions, then you make big gains on most clubs you are playing, however, those two positions mean so much on defense that you have to weigh the gains vs the loss. Assuming there might be a loss on defense with XB at SS, I don't see the big positional comparative advantage of keeping him there outweighing the loss on defense, but this year should tell us a lot about his defensive development, and perhaps his play will make the decision for Ben obvious- one way or the other. Also, the offensive production at 3B in recent years has been pretty low, so having XB at 3B could give us a huge gain there, and solve our 1B issue by moving Middlebrooks to 1B. Then, we'd have a very cheap solution at 3B and 1B which would free up more money to spend on the pitching staff and OF. Imagine the savings over 4-6 years we'd realize with Iggy, XB, and WMB at 3 of our 4 IF positions.