Drew or Iglesias?
SOX SIGNED HIM FOR A REASON
The back of the baseball card still matters, which is why I say that Ben Cherington and John Farrell will break it to Jose Iglesias that as well as he has played this spring, he will return to Pawtucket when Stephen Drew is activated on Wednesday.
Iglesias may indeed become a star, but Drew, when healthy, is a proven commodity, a shortstop who plays above-average defense and is one of the top producers at his position in baseball.
The operative words here are "when healthy." Drew was not the same player after fracturing his ankle in 2011 and requiring 11 months to return to the field. Scouts who watched Drew struggle upon his return said that he may have come back too soon, and by the end of last season you could see the improvement.
Drew has not had another season like he did in 2008 (44 doubles, 11 triples, 21 home runs), but in his last full season healthy, he had an .OPS over .800, which doesn't put him on a par with a Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes or Derek Jeter, but marks him as a hitter who can be in the middle of plenty of rallies.
Farrell praised Iglesias for working to become stronger and for a better approach at the plate. But while he has had nine hits in the early going, it should be noted that three were infield hits and two were bunt singles. That's not taking anything away from Iglesias, who also turned on two balls and hit doubles down the line, it's just acknowledging that it's too soon to say he has arrived as a hitter.
It's a great problem to have. But as Farrell stated emphatically this weekend, Drew will not lose his job because of a concussion.
GIVE IGGY A CHANCE
"What [Iglesias has] done is he's clearly shown that not only do we have a now-ready shortstop to play consistently here he's made very good strides, particularly at the plate."
Granted, some of Iglesias' nine hits in his first five games (a .450 clip) have been of the oh-so-soft variety, but isn't this the guy that everyone simply wanted to be able to hit .240 or so? If he stopped being an automatic out, he was your shortstop, they said. The box score certainly indicates that he is not an automatic out. And if he hits a soft .240 is it really a big deal?
The issue with Iglesias' development at the plate is that injuries have limited his at-bats at the minor league level. The organization would like him to get a few more plate appearances before knowing if he can handle the big leagues. The thing is, while he physically might need that one more month of seasoning, the 23-year-old is ready from a mental perspective.
Farrell said as much Monday, discussing how Iglesias arrived at spring training and took time to express his thoughts on the Drew signing. We can hazard a pretty good guess as to what those thoughts were, and they've fueled him from a motivational perspective.
To make it, players need motivation. They need talent. And they need opportunity. Iglesias has all three right now, but taking away his chance would do nothing to reduce the persistent uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox shortstop position.