This week, Danny shared his thoughts on the Red Sox’ early season struggles:
If the MLB Postseason began today, the Boston Red Sox would not be involved.
I know, it’s a little too early to play the “if the playoffs began today” game in Major League Baseball. We’re only one month into a 162-game regular season. But facts are facts. If the postseason did begin today, the defending World Series champion Red Sox wouldn’t be in.
That’s mostly because of some very poor starting pitching to begin the year, even from their ace Chris Sale, who is off to a horrible start in 2019 with an 0-5 record and a 6.30 ERA in six starts. This is coming after Sale signed a five-year, $145 million extension in late March.
It’s May, and the Red Sox find themselves in an under-.500 hole, looking up at a first-place Tampa Bay Rays team that’s 10 games above .500. But again, it’s a long season.
On the bright side, there is a side story to keep an eye on moving forward, regardless of what the standings might look like throughout the summer. And that’s the story of 23-year-old infielder Michael Chavis, who made his MLB debut on April 20.
In that game against the Rays in Tampa, Chavis pinch hit for catcher Sandy Leon in the top of the 9th with the game tied at 5-5 and Jackie Bradley Jr on first with one out. He ripped a double to deep center, sending Bradley Jr to third, which was followed by an Andrew Benintendi sacrifice fly to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead and an eventual 6-5 win.
Since, Chavis has spent most of his time as the Red Sox’ starting second baseman, even though he’s not a second baseman by trade. Chavis spent most of his minor-league career at third base, but Rafael Devers currently has the rights to that position in Boston.
So, with Dustin Pedroia, Eduardo Nunez, and Brock Holt all out with injuries, the only logical spot for Chavis was second base. And he’s been OK in the field. His .313 batting average and 1.061 OPS through his first 10 games has made up for any defensive issues that might exist.
In fact, Chavis’ right-handed power at the plate has been so impressive, it brings up the question, “What do they do with him when guys like Pedroia, Nunez, and Holt get back?”
There are obviously some other spots you can sprinkle Chavis in here and there. Want to give Devers or Moreland a day off against a tough lefty? Give Chavis a day at third or first base. Because after all, those are the two defensive spots that he probably feels most comfortable. Or you want to give Bradley Jr a day off? Slide Betts to center field, put J.D. Martinez in right, and make Chavis your DH.
Point is, there are things you can do here and there to make sure Chavis gets some at-bats, if and when the infield gets healthy.
But if Chavis continues to produce, offensively, the way he’s produced over his first 10 games, then perhaps Chavis is answering the question for us: he remains the Red Sox’ every day starting second baseman.
Cue the Pedroia supporters who jump into my twitter mentions yelling at me about how “Chavis isn’t even a second baseman!”
If you’re trying to convince me that a Red Sox player can’t thrive at a new position when he gets to the majors, then you clearly know nothing about the reigning American League MVP. Mookie Betts wasn’t an outfielder in the minors. He was primarily a second baseman. And what’s a more difficult move, going from second base to the outfield, or staying in the field and going from third base to second base?
I’m willing to bet that Chavis prefers to stay in the infield, if it means staying in the every day starting lineup. And if the Red Sox want to keep Chavis in the every day starting lineup when the rest of the infield gets healthy, then manager Alex Cora will have a tough decision to make: Chavis or Pedroia?
It’s funny because Pedroia is the guy who stole Alex Cora’s job at second base back in 2007. And we all know how that turned out.
But focusing strictly on the now, there’s no denying that Pedroia’s future is in question, given his recent history of the same lingering knee injury. And if Chavis is ready for an every day spot, then this Red Sox group has already proven it can win without Pedroia.
Full disclosure: I’m not a Pedroia guy. I find it tough to root for him after the whole “it’s not me, it’s them” exchange with Manny Machado in Baltimore a few years back, throwing his whole team under the bus. And this current situation is fluid. Perhaps it might be a little too early in Chavis’ career to even have this conversation.
But then again, maybe it’s not.
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