Tag: Jose Iglesias

3 Ways the Detroit Tigers Have Already Improved This Season

Five weeks into the 2015 MLB season, the Detroit Tigers (19-13) are looking up at the Kansas City Royals (20-12) in the American League Central Division standings.

A one-game deficit in no way constitutes “languishing,” but the Tigers are a team accustomed to being front-runners. Winning four straight division titles is testament to that.

Despite currently playing chaser, their .594 winning percentage is nothing to be sneezed at. In fact, if you extrapolate this figure over a full season, the Tigers are on pace for 96 wins—six more than 2014. Ergo, you can make a good argument for progress in the early going.

There have been some noticeable causes. With a stronger bench, manager Brad Ausmus has been able to tinker with his lineup and manipulate matchups to the team’s favor. Defensively, the team is also night-and-day compared to last year. Meanwhile, the bullpen is still a major concern (sigh), but one pitcher is shining brightly in a murky sea of mediocrity.

Click “next” for extended analysis on what’s getting the thumbs-up right now in Motown.

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Detroit Tigers: Youth Will Be Key to Improving Offense and Winning in 2015

The Detroit Tigers are one of the most star-studded teams in baseball, specifically on offense. From Miguel Cabrera to Victor Martinez to Ian Kinsler to Yoenis Cespedes, there are plenty of high-profile names in the Detroit clubhouse.

However, while all four players will be important factors to the Tigers achieving the ultimate success next season, young players will ultimately play the most important collective role—improving the bench and the bottom of the lineup.

Detroit has won four American League Central titles, made it to three straight American League Championship Series and went to the 2012 World Series mainly on star power.

Sure, their batting lineup was phenomenal, but the players at the back end of the team’s roster weren’t exactly world beaters.

The perfect example of this occurred during Game 3 of the Tigers’ ALDS matchup with the Orioles.

Down by two runs entering the bottom of the ninth and needing a rally to extend their postseason hopes, the Tigers sent Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Bryan Holaday (who was subbing for an injured Alex Avila) to the plate.

Victor Martinez doubled to start the inning, while J.D. followed with a double of his own to bring the Tigers within one run.

The next batter, Holaday, promptly struck out. Nick Castellanos was intentionally walked, which brought the lineup around to the shortstop’s place in the batting order. The lighter-hitting Andrew Romine was removed for Hernan Perez. Perez grounded into a double play that ended the game and the Tigers’ season.

Perez is a player with solid potential who could be a consistent offensive contributor down the line but wasn’t the right player to hit in that spot. He’s played all of 44 games in the majors in the past three seasons.

Sadly, Perez was the best option. Eugenio Suarez was the only other player available off the bench at that moment, and he only managed a .570 OPS in the second half of the season.

Suarez was the last man on the bench due to the loss of Austin Jackson and some substitutions earlier in the game.

After losing Jackson in the David Price trade, the team was forced to play Rajai Davis, J.D. Martinez and Torii Hunter as the preferred outfield trio. This replaced the predicament of having four quality outfielders rotating between three spots.

Post-Price trade, the Tigers bench generally consisted of some combination of Don Kelly, Ezequiel Carrera, Holaday and Suarez or Romine (depending on who wasn’t starting).

With the exception of Kelly, who has a penchant for timely postseason hits and can play almost anywhere on the diamond as well as Romine—who brings defense and speed—there isn’t much there that will win Detroit a game.


Improving the Bench

Enter the Tigers young players, who should give the team more quality depth—depth that could push the team over the hump and allow them to claim the World Series trophy that has evaded them in years past.

Detroit’s pinch hitters produced a measly .182 batting average and an awful .297 slugging percentage.

The Tigers have inadvertently made strides to improve this. Newly acquired center fielder Anthony Gose will at the very least push Davis into a platoon role in center field. This means that Davis will be on the bench for many games.

Should Gose improve on his .226 batting average in 2014 and continue to play stellar defense, he may win the job outright.

This would not be a bad thing.

While Davis didn’t exactly light it up as a substitute (.250 batting average when coming off the bench in 2014), he does possess qualities that teams look for in a bench player—pop (37 extra-base-hits) and speed (36 steals in 2014, meaning he won’t have to be removed for a pinch runner).

The former Pittsburgh Pirate also hit .356 against right-handed pitching, posted a .302 clip with runners in scoring position and had a collective .315 average in the seventh through ninth innings.  

Along with Davis, manager Brad Ausmus will have his pick of players. Highly regarded prospect Steven Moya plays like a more athletic Adam Dunn with the same, if not more, raw power and an ability to hit for average (.276 batting average at Double-A).

Fellow outfielder Tyler Collins provides a solid blend of speed and pop, while catching prospect James McCann shows the ability to succeed on both sides of the ball thanks to a .295 batting average in Triple-A and a strong, defense-first reputation.

All of these players should vastly improve Detroit’s bench in 2015.  


Solidifying the Bottom of the Lineup

Even if the young players aren’t reserve players, like Jose Iglesias (24) and Castellanos (22), they can still improve the team’s overall depth.

The Tigers’ depth was exposed by the Orioles not just on the bench, but also at the bottom of the lineup. Detroit has multiple batters hitting sixth hit a cumulative .226. A massive drop off from the .299 clip number five hole hitters posted. The seventh spot in the order produced a collective .249 batting average. The eighth spot turned in a .241 number, while the nine hole came in with a .248 batting average.

These trends should be helped by the arrival of Cespedes. He or J.D. Martinez will hit sixth for Ausmus, providing an immediate upgrade.

Similarly, if Iglesias hits anywhere near the .259 mark he posted in Detroit after coming over from Boston, he will also provide a definite upgrade at shortstop and at the bottom of the lineup. An improvement on that .259 number isn’t out of the question either. Should that occur, it would be icing on the cake.  

Castellanos is another young player who stands a strong chance to improve in 2015. Long touted as the best hitting prospect in the Tigers’ system, Castellanos produced 31 doubles and drove in 66 runs as a rookie. His .259 batting average (coincidentally identical to Iglesias’) should improve as well with more experience. Should that happen, his statistics should improve across the board.

Should Iglesias, Castellanos and Gose all improve on their 2014 numbers, the Tigers will no longer have a bottom-of-the-order that is perceived as a handful of easy outs. Should the bench improve, the team may finally have an offense equipped to succeed in the postseason and ultimately win a World Series.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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How Replacing Jose Iglesias with Stephen Drew Would Impact 2014 Tigers

Barring major spring training injuries, the 2014 Detroit Tigers profiled as the team to beat in the American League Central. Yet, if Jose Iglesias—last year’s AL Rookie of the Year candidate—misses significant time, the Tigers actually could be an even bigger lock to reach the postseason.

Of course, that’s assuming that Detroit uses its financial muscle to lure free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew off the street and onto the Comerica Park diamond to replace a now-injured Iglesias. 

The news and accompanying Drew-to-Detroit theory was offered by ESPN and Sirius XM baseball analyst Jim Bowden. Outside of media work, the former Reds and Nationals executive is familiar with front-office thinking around the sport.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick later confirmed these reports, as it looks like the All-Star break could be the earliest Iglesias returns:

With shin issues sidelining the Tigers infielder, manager Brad Ausmus thinks reinforcements could be necessary, per Jason Beck of MLB.com.

“Depending on how long he’s going to be out, we may or may not need two shortstops,” Ausmus said. 

In this case, the connection is easy to make. Detroit is a legitimate World Series candidate, with or without a high-caliber shortstop. Yet, after trading for Iglesias’ dynamic glove, youth and upside last summer, the team was prepared to watch the 24-year-old infielder graduate into a dynamic two-way player in 2014 and beyond.   

With those plans on hold for the majority of 2014, Drew’s free-agent plight can become a blessing in disguise for a veteran team eager to win a championship before the roster ages and decays into a mediocre outfit. 

Drew isn’t a difference-making player, but he represents an upgrade from the young, unproven Iglesias. 

At this point, swapping Drew for Iglesias actually would bring the veteran Tigers closer to the World Series ring that has alluded them over the course of a highly-successful run atop the AL Central.  

During Drew’s eight-year career, the left-handed hitting shortstop has averaged 11 home runs per season and posted a .329 on-base percentage. While those numbers aren’t eye-opening, they are much more prolific than what the light-hitting Iglesias did with the bat during a 294-game minor league apprenticeship. 

Prior to last year’s call up in Boston, Iglesias owned a career minor league OPS of .622. Barring an unexpected uptick in offensive production, Detroit’s future shortstop will rack up value almost solely with his dynamic glove. On the other hand, Drew is more of a complete, all-around shortstop.  

Not only is Drew a clearly better offensive player, Fangraphs’ defensive numbers actually painted him as the better shortstop last season. Despite the highlight plays from the young and athletic Iglesias, Drew had a tremendous defensive season in Boston. 

While the average fan might call Drew a defensive downgrade, the numbers refute that notion. 

Over the long haul, the Tigers would be foolish to contemplate keeping Drew in favor of Iglesias. Over the next four or five years, Detroit could have a cheap, ascending option at shortstop, allowing the front office to spend lavishly on veterans like Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera. 

If a contract discussion with Drew’s agent—Scott Boras—does commence, expect a one-year deal to be as far as Detroit would be willing to go for a shortstop stopgap. Blocking Iglesias’ path and future in Detroit makes little sense.

However, with the Royals and Indians owning the potential to crack the 90-win plateau and challenge an injury-plagued Tigers team in 2014, general manager Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch can’t sit around and wait for Iglesias to heal.

For some teams, 2015 and 2016 represent windows to contention and championship baseball. In Detroit, 30-or-over stars are the norm and potential big-money free-agent cases hang over the fate of this franchise.

From Torii Hunter (38) to Victor Martinez (35) to Joe Nathan (39), the Tigers aren’t built for tomorrow. In fact, aComerica Park, there is no tomorrow.

Max Scherzer—the reigning AL Cy Young winner—is set to hit the open market next winter, perhaps carrying a price tag of $150-plus million. Miguel Cabrera—attempting to win three consecutive AL MVP crowns—could do the same after 2016, with an outside chance of scoring the biggest contract in the history of the sport. 

Through a combination of offense, veteran acumen, underrated defense and desperation for a place to play baseball in 2014, Stephen Drew represents the perfect antidote to what ails the Tigers heading into the final weeks of spring training. 

If Drew simply held the fort and kept Detroit afloat at shortstop, this fit would be obvious. But a stroke of luck has allowed the Tigers the avenue to pursue a shortstop better equipped to help win a title in 2014. 

Iglesias will be the better player over the next handful of years, but Drew is better now.

For the Tigers, that’s all that should matter. 

Agree? Disagree?

Comment, follow me on Twitter or “like” my Facebook page to talk about all things baseball.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Roster projections courtesy of MLB Depth Charts.

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Detroit Tigers Jose Iglesias: Starting His Own Legacy Wearing No. 1

It’s a case of Wally Pipp, redux—in an indirect sort of way.

Jhonny Peralta got a headache and Jose Iglesias took his job.

Kind of.

For the next five to 10 years—or however long the Tigers are able to shanghai Iglesias to the team—when Tigers fans see feats of derring-do at shortstop, they can thank Peralta’s headache.

Jhonny’s headache, of course, wasn’t a literal one, but it was no less impactful. The headache was a 50-game suspension for Peralta’s connection to the Biogenesis lab, which created a hole at shortstop that this kid Iglesias is filling like cement.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, who must have been wielding a gun and wearing a mask, pried Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox in a three-team trade that sent outfield prospect Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox.

It was only one of the slyest moves in team history. It may prove to be the steal of the millennium.

Peralta is a fine baseball player and a capable shortstop. He was swinging a mighty stick before the suspension, harkening everyone back to his All-Star season of 2011.

But Peralta is the 2013 Pipp, whose place in the Yankees lineup at first base was taken by one Louis Gehrig in 1923 as Pipp infamously nursed a headache. Pipp was a pretty good player too, but he was no Gehrig, as it turned out.

Iglesias is already making people think of Peralta as a distant memory, and Jhonny has only been gone for a little more than a month.

Iglesias plays shortstop as if he tumbled out of the womb wearing a mitt. It wouldn’t surprise me if his first words were “seis-cuatro-tres.”

Brooks Robinson was dropped on Earth by God to play third base. Iglesias is a shortstop the way Brooks was a third baseman. In just seven weeks as a Tiger, Iglesias has made plays that you only see on video games—or in dreams.

There isn’t a baseball that Iglesias can’t get to. He has the range of a nuclear bomb and an arm like an ICBM missile.

We have never seen shortstop play in Detroit like we’re seeing it now with Iglesias. With all due respect to Alan Trammell and “Steady” Eddie Brinkman, Iglesias combines competence with flair. He’s an acrobat playing baseball and part gymnast too.

What’s Spanish for vacuum cleaner?

They gave Iglesias jersey No. 1 as he arrived from Boston, and there was an uproar, because that number was done proud by Lou Whitaker, who many Tigers fans think should be in the Hall of Fame.

I was among those who thought giving Iglesias No. 1 was poor form, but I didn‘t lose sleep over it. I’m losing even less, after seeing this youngster play.

Frankly, they should give Iglesias another number, if only because he needs to start his own legacy with his own numeral. Twenty years from now, we’ll be aghast if another Tiger wears Iglesias’ number.

You say he’s a rookie, that he’s only 23 and he’s only been a Tiger since late July, so back off on the accolades?

How many songs did they need to hear Sinatra sing before they knew Blue Eyes was a crooner?

I don’t think we need any more evidence to confirm that Jose Iglesias is a shortstop with a gene that most others simply don’t have.

Iglesias was signed by the Red Sox as a 19-year-old free agent in 2009. He wasn’t drafted, which is an indictment on every scout in the world. Where was he hiding? In plain sight?

He’s generously listed as 5’11” and 175 pounds, but whoever did the listing must have been looking at a fun house mirror image. Iglesias is as 5’11” as Verne Troyer and as 175 pounds as a runway model. But no matter, list him however you want. It won’t change the fact that Iglesias is as shortstop as Ozzie Smith, and that’s the only thing Tigers fans care about.

We first saw Iglesias in Detroit briefly when the Red Sox visited in June. But on a team filled with guys named Pedroia, Ortiz, Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury, Iglesias got lost in the shuffle on the visitors.

Then the trade was made in late July, and we were told that we’d be thrilled to watch Iglesias play shortstop. He was hitting about .330 at the time of the deal, but hitting wasn’t his thing, supposedly. It was the glove that separated Iglesias from the rest of the pack.

Well, Iglesias is still hitting over .300, but if he keeps flashing leather like this, he could hit .003 for all I care.

Infield defense wasn’t exactly a strength for the Tigers at the beginning of last year, with Peralta at shortstop, Ryan Raburn at second base, and Miggy Cabrera giving it another try at third base and Prince Fielder at first base. They were the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, pretty much.

Cabrera proved to be better than most thought and Fielder is serviceable, but it’s in the middle of the infield where the Tigers are vastly improved. Iglesias at shortstop and Omar Infante—who rejoined the Tigers midway through last season—at second base, is as good as it gets defensively. And bonus—both are hitting over .300.

Iglesias made a play in Chicago several weeks ago that had to be seen to be believed. Actually, it was seen and still not believed.

Catcher Josh Phegley hit a slow roller to the left of the pitcher’s mound and Iglesias charged. The kid snared the ball with his bare hand, and while diving to his right thanks to his momentum, Iglesias flipped a throw to first base as he landed shoulder first in the grass. Somehow, Iglesias got enough on the flip to nip Phegley.

I am seeing it now in my head, and I’m still not certain whether I am making it up as I type. Someone, please verify that this actually happened.

Jose Iglesias will be the Tigers shortstop for the rest of the decade and maybe beyond. Because of his youth, the team has Iglesias under its control for at least five years before words like arbitration and free agency start to be bandied about.

By that time, it will be unthinkable to let Iglesias go anywhere.

And it would be unthinkable to give anyone else jersey No. 1. If Whitaker wearing it didn‘t retire the number, then Iglesias surely will be finishing the job.

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Detroit Tigers’ Jose Iglesias Takes a Fastball Below the Belt

The Detroit Tigers’ Jose Iglesias got hit below the belt by a fastball from Kansas City Royals pitcher Danny Duffy during the third inning of Friday’s game. 

It’s hard tell exactly where Iglesias got hit, but it’s too close for comfort if you ask me. He stayed in the game even after getting plunked by Duffy’s 91 mile-per-hour offering. 

Detroit lost 3-0 in the second game of the double-header after dropping the opener 2-1. 

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What on Earth Do Jose Iglesias, Ted Williams and Manny Ramirez Have in Common?

Ted Williams. Manny Ramirez. Jose Iglesias

One of these is not like the others—right?

At first glance, most definitely, aside from the fact that all three have played for the Boston Red Sox. Williams and Ramirez are both members of the elite 500-home run club, with slugging and OPS marks that rank among the highest in MLB history. If it weren’t for steroids, Ramirez would be a lock to join Teddy Ballgame in the Hall of Fame—provided Manny ever stopped making comebacks.

Iglesias, in contrast, has hit exactly two major league home runs in 85 games spread over three major league seasons, which isn’t too surprising considering he hit six in 294 minor league contests.

Last year at Triple A Pawtucket, he batted a so-so .266, and after a September promotion to Boston he went a pitiful 8-for-68 (.118).

Jose is, or was, the classic good-field, no-hit player—as much a magician with his glove at shortstop as Williams and Ramirez were with their bats. The big question about his chances of sticking with the Red Sox was whether his defense would compensate for his anemic offense.

Now that’s all changed, and Iglesias has inexplicably joined Manny (in 2001) and Ted (in 1941) as the only players in the 112-year history of the Boston Red Sox to achieve an early-season batting feat of red-hot proportions.

A batting average of .400 or better after his first 150 at-bats of the year.

Think about that. The Red Sox have spent more than a century at hitter-friendly Fenway Park, home to such expert batsmen as Tris Speaker (a .383 average in 1912), Jimmie Foxx (.360 in ’39), Wade Boggs (.368 in ’85), and Nomar Garciaparra (.372 in 2000)—not to mention Ramirez and Williams. Yet only twice entering 2013 had anybody gotten off to that fast a start.

Had you asked everyone which player on this year’s Opening Day roster had a chance of doing it, Iglesias might have been the consensus last choice. 

Despite his fantastic defense, he only made the team because of an injury to projected starting shortstop Stephen Drew. Iglesias went 7-for-12 in the opening series of the year at New York, but experts said it was a fluke.

General manager Ben Cherington apparently agreed, because once Drew was cleared to play, Iglesias was sent down to Pawtucket after six games played, a .450 batting average and a growing list of Web Gems. 

On paper, Drew—an eight-year veteran with pop in his bat and a steady glove—was still considered the better player.

The Sox were not paying him $9.5 million for the season to sit on the bench, and naysayers pointed out that the majority of Iglesias‘ early-season hits had been dinky grounders or bloops that found holes. Back in the minors, he actually regressed, hovering around the Mendoza Line at .202 through 33 games.

Then the inexplicable happened. Drew slumped, third baseman Will Middlebrooks got hurt, and Iglesias was recalled on May 24 to fill a roster spot. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored that night, playing third and batting ninth. The next day he spelled Drew at short, went 3-for-4 with a double, and raised his average to .484.

Iglesias has been starting ever since, predominantly at third, and Middlebrooks has been dispatched to the minors to play every day and shake off his sophomore slump.

As adept at the hot corner as he was at shortstop, Iglesias has made just two errors all year and snatched up every ball hit anywhere in his zip code. He’s even played three flawless games at second base.

The bloops and bleeders of April are now line drives and shots to the gaps as he has shown more patience and aggressiveness at the plate. His average was still a ridiculous .451 in mid-June and stayed over .400 all the way until July 6. Named “Rookie of the Month” for June, he is now a front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year. 

A mini-slump (.270 over the last 10 games) has “dropped” Iglesias down to .384, but he’s still had at least one hit in 40 of the 50 games he’s played—in which Boston has gone 33-17. He has 10 doubles and a .917 OPS, and nobody is talking about whether Iglesias can hit MLB pitching anymore. He runs hard out of the box and is a fan favorite.

What’s next? Will Iglesias‘ drop-off continue as pitchers get more of a book on him? Will he find himself back on the bench if Middlebrooks returns from Pawtucket and Drew continues his recent resurgence (.364 over nine games)?

It seems unlikely.

In a way, Iglesias‘ fortunes mirror those of his team. The Red Sox, 69-93 last year and picked by most experts for another last-place finish in the AL East, currently possess the best record in the American League at 58-37. Nobody expected it, and no one knows how long it will last.


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Boston Red Sox: Will Boston Move Jose Iglesias Away from Shortstop Long-Term?

The Boston Red Sox have begun an experiment to see what else Jose Iglesias is capable of defensively.

It’s well-known that Iglesias is a great defensive shortstop—easily the best in the organization—but it’s been his offense that’s kept him from being a starter in the big leagues. As Iglesias currently continues to develop in Triple-A Pawtucket, there are plans in place to move him around the infield.

Iglesias will be getting playing time at second and third base in the near future in addition to fielding grounders at shortstop frequently, according to Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.

“They said I’m moving around, just to get an idea,” Iglesias told MacPherson. “They haven’t told me anything else.”

Well, Pawtucket told Iglesias that he was going to make his first career start away from shortstop on Tuesday afternoon. MacPherson was present for the game and tweeted out some of his thoughts on Iglesias at playing the hot corner.

MacPherson noted in his article that “all indications are that Iglesias will remain primarily a shortstop” and “the work at positions other than shortstop is not a sign that Iglesias is becoming a utility infielder.”

While this is important to keep in mind, it’s also interesting to ponder what the future could hold for Iglesias if he’s able to play positions other than shortstop at a high level defensively. For one, it would certainly open up a series of doors.

The Red Sox are relatively set at second and third base for the moment. Dustin Pedroia is under contract through the 2014 season and there’s an $11 million team option for the 2015 season. Will Middlebrooks is under team control for even longer, considering he just made his major league debut last season.

Depth, though, could turn out to be a problem. The Red Sox don’t really have a major-league-ready backup at third base if anything were to happen to Middlebrooks.

There are a handful of prospects in the minor leagues that could be impactful in the next couple of seasons.

There isn’t a clear-cut replacement for Pedroia either. Pedro Ciriaco is the backup middle infielder for now, but he’s hitting .184/.289/.342 in 19 games this season while playing mediocre defense at best. To say that he’s a replaceable backup would be a major understatement.

If Iglesias could play second or third base well enough, it would definitely increase the odds that he stays with the Red Sox long-term the next time he gets promoted.

But his offense still needs to improve, considering he entered Tuesday hitting .205/.262/.330 in 31 games for Pawtucket.

As I’ve now mentioned twice, offense is Iglesias’ biggest weakness. It’s going to become an even bigger problem at some point this season or definitely next season when Xander Bogaerts—Boston’s top prospect—gets promoted to Triple-A.

MacPherson and his co-worker, Tim Britton, told me in a chat a few weeks ago that “every indication is that the Red Sox want to keep Bogaerts at short as long as possible.” That came after I asked whether it would make sense to transition the top prospect to third base in the wake of Middlebrooks’ offensive struggles.

Bogaerts played a little third base for Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, but has been a shortstop throughout his career.

Because of his size, though, some think that he might be better-suited at third base or at a corner outfielder position in the future.

If Boston plans to keep Bogaerts at shortstop, Iglesias is basically out of the job. This is why these next couple of weeks are so important for Iglesias’ future. If he can handle grounders and routine plays easily at positions other than shortstop, he boosts the likelihood that he’ll eventually be in the major leagues full-time.

If Iglesias can’t play second or third base well, which I think is unlikely, then he’s going to continue to struggle finding time with the Red Sox. Defensive versatility can do a lot of positive things for his career.

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Boston Red Sox: Should Stephen Drew or Jose Iglesias Be the Starting Shortstop?

The 2013 major league regular season is barely a week old, but the Boston Red Sox are already facing their first major question. Should Jose Iglesias or Stephen Drew be the team’s starting shortstop?

The two players have compelling claims to the job, but it is Drew who should be the starter, while Iglesias should continue honing his craft in the minor leagues.

The 30-year-old Drew, a veteran of seven major league seasons, was signed this past offseason to a one-year, $9.5 million deal to be Boston’s starting shortstop in 2013.

He is a career .265 hitter with 77 home runs and 349 RBI in 812 major league games. His combined dWAR of 4.2 suggests that he has been a slightly above average defender.

The left-handed hitter was 3-for-16 in spring training this year before suffering a concussion and missing the end of camp.

He just finished a four-game rehab stint with Double-A Portland and is expected to be activated from the seven-day disabled list on Wednesday.

Iglesias, a 23-year-old prospect from Cuba, took over for Drew in his absence.

Considered a slick fielder, Iglesias has filled in admirably during the first week of the season, collecting nine hits in 20 at-bats and playing excellent defense.

Once among Boston’s top prospects, Iglesias has seen his stock slip because of his below average ability at the plate. He has just a .261 combined batting average with two home runs and 64 walks in 261 minor league games, and a .202 batting average with one home run and four walks in 41 major league games.

Despite his hot start to this season, the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson writes that the Red Sox shouldn’t be fooled by Iglesias’ early stats:

Of Iglesias‘s nine hits so far this season, two have been push bunts to first base, four have been infield singles and the other three all have been either grounded or chopped past the third baseman. Few—if any—could be said to have been hit with authority…

If Iglesias were working counts and drawing walks or scalding line drives up the gap, he’d be making the decision tougher on the Boston front office.

But Iglesias can’t draw walks until he can hit the ball hard enough to dissuade pitchers from staying in the strike zone. He’s not doing that. He instead is benefiting from good fortune—a hole here, an infielder caught napping there.

Boston manager John Farrell has said all along that Drew wouldn’t lose his job because of injury. He recently discussed the matter with the Boston Herald’s Ron Borges, explaining, “We’re certainly not going to take away from what Jose’s done, but we signed a premium guy in the offseason to be our starting shortstop. We’re not going to look at an injury to cause him to lose his job.”

Even though Drew is higher paid than Iglesias, it’s not like the youngster is making minimum wage. Because of the contract he originally signed with the Red Sox in 2009, he will make $2.06 million this season.

Sending Iglesias to the minors isn’t about money as much as it is about giving the more experienced player the starting spot. It also allows Iglesias to gain valuable experience at Triple-A Pawtucket and be able to play every day.

According to WEEI’s Alex Speier, Iglesias claims he will gracefully accept whatever decision is made about his fate:

I just go out and play the game and try to win. I don’t know what’s going to happen… I just prepare myself to play every day and help this team win and be ready to go every day… I’m going to enjoy the game no matter where. Obviously you want to play here. The atmosphere it’s fun being around these guys. But if I have to go I don’t mind.

That positive attitude is an encouraging sign. If he accepts a demotion without fanfare and plays well in the minors, he is sure to be back in Boston before long.

With Drew only on a one-year deal, the Red Sox could be looking for a new starting shortstop as soon as next year. If Iglesias can continue becoming a more complete player, he could be in the conversation for that spot.

Although there are arguments to be made for both players, Drew is the best choice as the starting shortstop this season. But he shouldn’t get too comfortable—if Iglesias continues to play well, he will make future decisions more difficult for the Red Sox.

Statistics via Baseball-Reference

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Why Jose Iglesias Era Should Start Now for Boston Red Sox

There has been no better time all season long to promote shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Boston Red Sox.

If you would’ve asked me a week ago, I would’ve said no. Two days ago, still no. But today, yes. In just a matter of hours, everything has changed, and it really has nothing to do with the performance of Iglesias last night in Triple-A Pawtucket. Instead, it has everything to do with what happened in Cleveland last night.

Red Sox rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks was hit in his wrist during the ninth inning and was forced to leave the game. Middlebrooks had X-rays taken after the game and it was then learned that his wrist was broken, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.



Rob Bradford of WEEI wrote Saturday morning that Middlebrooks’ wrist is actually fractured and that the Red Sox have not ruled out that he’ll miss the remainder of the regular season. Bradford suggests four options that Boston could use at third during his absence: Nick Punto, Danny Valencia, Pedro Ciriaco and Mike Aviles.

Of those four options, moving Aviles to third base makes the most sense because it would then open the door for Iglesias. Bradford writes that if Boston were to move Aviles, Ciriaco would become the new shortstop, but that’s not the best course of action.

It’s time for the Jose Iglesias era to begin.

Iglesias has been playing shortstop for the Pawtucket Red Sox for nearly two full seasons and is the best shortstop prospect in the Boston organization. Iglesias is a phenomenal fielder who needs to improve at the plate—something he’s been working on this season in order to earn a big-league call-up.

Through 77 games this season, Iglesias is hitting .259/.305/.297 with nine extra-base hits, 38 runs, 23 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Like I said, he’s not going to be a great hitter, but that’s something that the Red Sox are going to have to live with.

Although Iglesias hasn’t hit well over the course of the season, or even throughout his professional career, he has been swinging the bat well lately. In his last 10 games, he’s hitting over .300 with an OPS of .737 and has scored six times.

Paw Sox manager Arnie Beyeler recently praised Iglesias, telling Mike Szostak of the Providence Journal:

“Those guys work hard on some things. He’s rally backing the ball up well. He’s hitting the ball hard, and that’s the key. He’s having good at-bats. All you can do in this game is hit the ball hard. I know he’s pretty tough on himself, but he’s hitting balls hard, and that’s all he can do. That’s all he can control,” 

Iglesias has been called up already this season, but he never saw any time. He played in 10 games with the Red Sox last year, going 3-for-6 in limited time.

If not now, then when? When is Jose Iglesias really going to get a shot at the majors? The Red Sox are about as far away from playoff contention as you can be and without Middlebrooks in the middle of the lineup, things probably aren’t going to get better anytime soon—even with David Ortiz eventually returning to the lineup.

Aviles has had a surprisingly good season at shortstop this season, but it’s really been his offense that’s been keeping him in the lineup. Moving him to third base keeps him in the lineup and gives one of Boston’s top prospects a chance to start his major league career.

The Red Sox aren’t going to make the playoffs this season, and it’s time to start giving the younger guys a shot.

Iglesias has done his time in the minors. We know his game like the back of our hands. Now it’s time to see what he can do on an everyday basis in the big leagues.

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Boston Red Sox Top Prospect Jose Iglesias Heating Up at Pawtucket

For 22-year-old Red Sox shortstop phenom Jose Iglesias, playing defense has never been an issue. This slick-fielding Cuban defector has dazzled spectators time and time again with his amazing range, glove work and almost magically quick release.

To many, Iglesias is a human highlight reel, making spectacular play after spectacular play that makes opposing players scratch their heads and say, “How the heck that ball not get through the infield?”

Yet while Iglesias wows crowds with his defensive genius, Red Sox powers that be are not yet sure if their young ballplayer’s bat is truly big-league ready.

However, if Iglesias’ recent play is any indication, this electrifying ballplayer is beginning to raise his game to a whole new level.

Since April 30, Iglesias has been swinging a scorching bat. During this span, Iglesias is hitting .545 (six hits in 11 at-bats) with two doubles, a triple and two RBI. While Iglesias has a ways to go to prove he is primed for the show, he has raised his average nearly 30 points to .228.

Friday night, Iglesias went 2-4 with a double, triple and two RBI during the Paw Sox 5-2 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens.

This was Iglesias’ third straight multi-hit game.

Iglesias made his major league debut in 2011. During this time, Iglesias earned two hits in six at-bats.

The Red Sox signed Iglesias as an undrafted free agent on September 8, 2009.

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