I want to see Will Middlebrooks become the next Kevin Youkilis, I really do — but I also think that Jose Iglesias has earned the right to show me that he can become the next Tim Naehring.
With Middlebrooks set to return from the disabled list this week, the Boston Red Sox once again face a dilemma with Iglesias. The young prospect was believed to be the shortstop of the future when he defected from Cuba in 2009. However, the general consensus of MLB scouts is that he cannot and will never be an effective hitter in the big leagues.
And we all know that scouts are never wrong, right?
Yes, Iglesias has been a .250 hitter for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Yes, he was a terrible hitter in limited time in Boston last year. But how is it fair to disregard what Iglesias has done with the bat this year?
Earlier in the season, Iglesias was demoted to Triple-A after going 9-for-20 to start the season. When the overpaid Stephen Drew returned from one of his standard injuries, he usurped the starting role at shortstop. Drew has been okay. He goes through terrible slumps, but has delivered with his bat in important situations as of recently.
Iglesias started hitting in Pawtucket for the first time upon his return, but then started to sulk. Manager Gary DiSarcina justifiably benched him for his poor attitude. When Middlebrooks got hurt in late May, Iglesias got another opportunity to again prove himself.
Since being called up again, all Iglesias has done is hit. If you listen to local media stooges like Tony Massarotti, you would be led to believe that Iglesias is lucky. His disproportionate amount of infield hits, we are told, is the reason for his .446 average. The general consensus of the media is that he’s not making good contact.
I’m sick of hearing it. I enjoy watching Iglesias play baseball and love what he brings to the Red Sox. He’s got seven doubles in 74 at-bats. He’s making contact at an alarming rate. He has started 20 games this year and hit in 19 of them, including 12 in which he had multiple hits.
Am I in some sort of bizarro world? A player who has been called the best defensive shortstop in the league has multi hit games in 12 out 20 starts, and he is going to be benched for the legendary Will Middlebrooks?
I could understand if Middlebrooks was a proven commodity, but he’s not. He is a prospect just like Iglesias. The difference is that his batting average is .201. Yes, he has more potential offensively as we saw when he hit three homers in a a single game earlier this season. But he has gone hitless in 24 of his 44 starts this season.
In what line of work does an unproven employee like Middlebrooks get promoted over someone like Iglesias, who shows up to work every day and does the job he’s paid to do? I would love to see Middlebrooks become a great MLB hitter, but he needs to wait until the next inevitable injury to Drew before he is given that privilege.