In both Greek and Roman mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed hound that guards the gates of hell.
Is that not the most fitting analogy for the current shortstop position for the Boston Red Sox?
While it is not a major concern, it is an area that Red Sox fans still feel a bit unsettled. Rightfully so. The team traded away its everyday shortstop, Marco Scutaro, for what amounts to a bucket of Bazooka Joe and a pat on the back.
In turn, the nation gets prepared to see Mike Aviles, Jose Iglesias or Nick Punto manning short. If the three could be put into some type of mystical blender and a super-shortstop was birthed in the mix, that would be fantastic. Clearly, that is not happening.
The current feel is that Mike Aviles is the leader in the clubhouse to be the starting shortstop with Nick Punto acting as the utility infielder while Iglesias develops further in Triple-A Pawtucket.
While Iglesias may be the best defensively of the three, his bat is seriously lacking. He proved to be over-matched in his final 101 games with Pawtucket, mustering just a .235 batting average.
The Red Sox aren't hoping to have Hanley Ramirez power out of Iglesias, but a higher average and OBP would be nice.
That leaves just Punto and Aviles in the race.
In a straight-up comparison of stats, the choice for Aviles is obvious. He's younger and has a better batting line with a higher capability of getting on base while being solid defensively.
Who do you want to play SS in 2012?
While historically, Punto has a reputation for being a solid defensive player and among the three heads of this beast, hosts the highest WAR with a 7.6 while Aviles is second at 5.5 and Iglesias, for the sake of putting him on the list, is only -0.2.
Red Sox fans could almost have forecast a move like this. Remember all of those years (uh... well, still continuing on, really) when the team couldn't decide between offense and defense at short? Now, they literally have both and can flip-flop depending on how the team feels on a given day.
I'll say this, while it would be wise for the team to start Aviles as the regular shortstop, I am already pining for the days when Jose Iglesias is the mainstay and this whole shortstop saga that has essentially been going on since 2004 will finally come to an end. Counting Punto, Iglesias and Aviles, the Sox are up to their 11th shortstop since trading Nomar Garciaparra in 2004.
A never-ending revolving door of players at short—that does seem more and more like the gates of hell. Go get 'em Cerberus, go get 'em.