By starting Travis Shaw over Pablo Sandoval, he’s clearly managing to save his job, not to save the Sox season.
It’s different, you know.
Just last week, I asked us all to pump the brakes on Shaw. I went over all the reasons that Sandoval was the better option at third base this season. It was pretty obvious, really. Sandoval was coming off the unluckiest season of his career, and Shaw was coming off the best season of his. Still, the projections only had Shaw performing slightly better than Panda this season.
That’s not enough.
It would be one thing if Shaw was an up and coming top prospect. If we were looking at Xander Bogaerts shoving Stephen Drew aside. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before Xander started his reign. This isn’t even Moncada trying to displace Pedroia, where you know the talent is there and just wonder if it translates.
Travis Shaw has been a .265 hitter over his minor league career. Not exactly setting the world on fire. Even the EEIdiots were admitting that he didn’t earn the job with his performance. Sure, he had a nice September, and a good spring. But, those numbers don’t mean anything. You don’t win a job by performing well against minor leaguers.
Sandoval has shown that he can play at least as well as Shaw against actual major league pitchers. His career numbers, on a much larger scale, are better than Shaw’s “incredible” numbers over a month. Basically, Shaw’s ceiling is Sandoval’s floor.
So, why is Farrell making the move? Because Shaw’s playing a little better at the moment. And, Farrell is afraid that if the team starts 2-10, he’ll be fired. It’s the same reason he’s starting Holt in left. He’s not in it for the long haul. He wants to win the next two weeks, at the expense of the weeks that come later. And if he’s willing to put himself ahead of the team, I guess he can just move along.
Because, what happens when Shaw is batting .220 in April? Or worse. What if he starts 0-6? Is he going to put Panda back in? When Shaw drops back to earth…or never lifts off…what then? Now you have Sandoval sitting there on the bench doing nothing. He’s not in the flow of games. But, the guy you signed almost exclusively for crunch time is wasting away to where he’s not going to help you right away. Now you’ve done it. Now it’s a “thing.” Now each player is looking over their shoulder. Now Shaw’s pressing. Now Panda’s on a short leash. Now nobody’s comfortable. Now you’re back to the 2014 version of Xander where the young kid suddenly has to change his game because he’s feeling pressure from weird places. Remember when that was really bad for Drew, Xander, and the Sox? Farrell just did it again, but in reverse.
All because he wants to win a couple more games in the first two weeks of April.