Well, the Pablo Sandoval signing from last winter officially blew up in the faces of the Red Sox. This morning, John Farrell told reporters that Travis Shaw will start at third base on opening day, moving Kung Fu Panda to the bench. Ian Browne tweeted that defense was the deciding factor.
And with that, the Red Sox are still on the hook for $76 million of the $95 million albatross that Sandoval signed before the 2015 season that many, including myself, thought was a good deal for the Sox. I could not have been more wrong. In fairness, I didn’t know what we do now, which is that the Giants offered Sandoval basically the same contract but required a weight clause in the contract, whereas the Red Sox didn’t. If I, or anyone else, had known that the weight clause was likely the deciding factor, we would have felt differently. But when judging the contract, I brushed off the argument that the Red Sox were paying for the post-prime years of a guy whose body shape was not going to improve. Regardless of what facts we knew, that was a huge mistake.
Sandoval needs to go. The situation may not be unsalvageable, but the Red Sox have no reason to try and find out. What benefit is there to keeping Sandoval at this point? Do you really think that he’s gonna be the perfect cheerleader in the clubhouse? He’s not going to handle this as well as Drew Bledsoe on the 2001 Patriots, and I’m not banking on Sandoval playing himself into the lineup when he gets his occasional innings. The only reason to keep him around would be injury, which is a definite possibility because Hanley Ramirez is at risk of killing himself anytime he tries completing anything other than a routine play. If Hanley goes down and Shaw has to move to first, it’d be nice to give Sandoval a shot at taking back his spot in the lineup. But we can’t expect an injury, even if it is Hanley. Kung Fu Panda has to go.
If the Red Sox are willing to eat a ton of salary, then I love the James Shields rumors because it’s much harder to have too many starting pitchers than it is third baseman. I’m not gonna hold my breath on that one, though.
Realistically, the Red Sox need to get Sandoval off the team by Monday in whatever way possible. Can’t start the season with Sandoval in the lineup. To be fair to Sandoval, he may have gotten a worse rap about being a bad teammate than he deserved, and there’s no guaranteeing that he’ll be a clubhouse cancer. But there’s a much, much greater chance of him being a negative influence than a positive one. If for no other reason, the Red Sox need to release him if they can’t trade him simply to prove to the young guys on the team that it’s important to avoid resembling a bowling ball when you’re a professional athlete.