The hopes of the Boston Red Sox to have a rebound season in 2013 may have suffered its first serious setback:
Middlebrooks left game with what was described as “right wrist soreness.” Will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) February 28, 2013
Information is scarce on the injury at this time, and the team won’t find out if or how long Will Middlebrooks will miss by re-aggravating the injury on the same wrist that he broke in the summer of 2012.
Obviously, losing a player with Middlebrooks’ is going to hurt a team at any position, but the fact that he plays third base for the Red Sox may have exposed this team’s Achilles’ heel–simply put, the team has no real option to replace him unless you see Pedro Ciriaco as an adequate replacement for the potential 30 home runs that could be in Middlebrooks’ bat in 2013.
The Red Sox have been through this, of course, as they were without Middlebrooks for nearly two months in 2012. If you might recall, it may have been the saddest, most dysfunctional, rock-bottom two months that Boston has seen for some time.
That’s not all because of the 24-year-old’s broken wrist, of course, but considering that he was one of the lone bright spots in a disastrous season, his impact on this team can’t be stated enough.
For now, let’s skip the potential scenario where a nagging wrist injury could severely affect Middlebrooks all year and just head straight for the worst case scenario.
If in fact he does have to miss any kind of significant time as a result of re-injuring his right wrist, which had been “100%” according to the third baseman merely days ago, the Red Sox will have no choice but to look at a total loss of power at the position with defensive specialist Ciriaco in place.
Sure, he’ll give the Red Sox someone who can put up a fair share of stolen bases, but considering his 2.9 percent walk rate in 2012, Ciriaco is, at best, a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter with no pop, who will live and die by his sky-high career BABIP of .363 over 217 PA thus far.
If he keeps being a ground ball machine (1.84 GB/FB) with little power, it’s doubtful that the baseball gods will keep him propped up there. A .233/.269/.291 triple-slash over his last 29 games of 2012 might just be a taste of things to come.
In years past, the hot corner had been a position of stability for the Red Sox with Kevin Youkilis manning it year after year. The choice to move on to Middlebrooks was the right one, but the team may have overlooked the liability of the 24-year-old’s recovery from a broken wrist in making sure that there’s a decent plan B in place.
Now, that liability may leave the team with a major hole to climb out of before the 2013 season has even begun.