Aviles rising to the challenge at shortstop

BALTIMORE — It’s raining here in the Charm City, but the storm is moving out to sea, so we should have a baseball game tonight.

So what else is going on?

In the wake of Mike Aviles belting three home runs against the Phillies, let’s review how he’s doing compared to his predecessor at shortstop, Marco Scutaro.

Aviles: Has played in 40 of 41 games, making 39 starts at shortstop. Hitting .275/.303/.497 with an OPS+ of 112. Has 13 doubles, 0 triples, 8 home runs, 27 RBIs, 26 runs scored and five stolen bases in eight attempts.

Scutaro: Has played in 37 of 40 games for the Rockies, making 33 starts at second base and two at shortstop. Hitting .253/.311/.325 with an OPS+ of 64. Has six doubles, one triple and one home run with four RBIs, 22 runs scored and three stolen bases in five attempts.


There’s not much point in comparing their defensive numbers for two reasons: they play different positions and the metrics over 40 games aren’t particularly indicative of much.

Obviously Aviles is having a far superior season offensively and even the most critical observer would have to concede that he’s at worst an average shortstop in the field.

The Scutaro deal in January, one of the few salary dumps in Red Sox history, was oddly timed. But Aviles has proven worthy of the job and apparently some of the money saved was invested in Cody Ross.

If dumping Scutaro led to Aviles playing every day and helped land Ross, Ben Cherington deserves a lot credit.

A few other notes:

• If first baseman Lance Berkman has a torn knee ligament and is out for the season, add the Cardinals to the list of teams who could be interested in Kevin Youkilis.

• To answer a few questions, it doesn’t seem very plausible to play Adrian Gonzalez in right field, Youkilis at first base and Will Middlebrooks at third base. Why would you take a Gold Glove first baseman and put him in right field?

If it’s unfair for an accomplished veteran player to lose his job to injury, which it is, then its also unfair to take an accomplished veteran player and stick him in an unfamiliar position because of an injury to somebody else.


The solution is to play Youkilis and try and trade him. If after three weeks he’s still not hitting, then he loses his job. But he is owed a chance.

• Daisuke Matsuzaka is back in limbo, his usual address. But there will come a time in July and August when he will be needed. The same is true of Aaron Cook. Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard will not be physically capable of making 30+ starts. One way or another, the Red Sox will need extra starters.

• The Red Sox are 20-21 and moving up while the Yankees are 21-20 and heading down with losses in four of their last five games. Hosting three against the Royals should help that, however.

• Terry Francona, the guy who once said he didn’t see himself being on television, is quite excellent on ESPN. Dodgers rookie Scott Van Slyke had a 3-and-0 count in the seventh inning last night and Tito predicted he would be swinging. Boom, three-run homer to left field.

Francona’s chemistry with Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman is great, too. Whether you have a rooting interest in the game they’re doing or not, you’ll learn plenty.

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