The “Hot Stove League” just got cooking, thanks to the Boston Red Sox. When familiar names start shifting between contending teams, things get interesting. In this case Pablo Sandoval, third baseman and cornerstone of the World Champion San Francisco Giants offense, lured by a 100 million dollar contract, departed the “City by the Bay” for “Bean Town.” It’s a blow to the Giants and their fans, who had lovingly christened Sandoval with the nickname “Kung Fu Panda.” It’ll be interesting to see if Red Sox fans embrace Pablo in a similar way. As we saw in the playoffs, when Sandoval is hot, he’s difficult to keep off the bases, but he’s a streaky hitter and can go through droughts where he’s chasing bad pitches. If he starts off next season on one of those, it’ll be interesting to see how patient Red Sox fans will be.
The Giants arch rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, also surrendered a big name to the Red Sox as Hanley Ramirez signed a 4 year 88 million dollar contract with a 5th year option. In this instance, Dodger fans were not surprised and probably won’t be shedding any tears over this departure. Although a formidable offensive force when healthy, that disclaimer applied too frequently to Hanley. His offensive numbers declined this past season as he was plagued by an assortment of nagging injuries. Defensively, he was a liability at shortstop. His error was the only flaw in Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter. Rumor is the Red Sox are going to try to move him to left field, plus he can be used at DH.
For Red Sox fans who are excited over their new acquisitions, a word of caution: Sandoval is a good player, but not a superstar, and Ramirez is a gamble in terms of his health and his disposition. Expensive free agent signings feel good in the off season, but they don’t guarantee championships. Now, if they get Jon Lester back…
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