I believe that much of the hand-wringing and gloom-and-doom predicting about production from the Red Sox shortstop position is premature and overly pessimistic.
I predict that Mike Aviles is going to surprise everyone and have the best year of his career, calming some of that fluttering in the collective breast of Red Sox Nation.
Last year's midseason utility infielder acquisition from Kansas City played some outfield at the end of 2011 in order to increase his versatility, and he expected to spend a lot more time in the outfield during spring training. Then came the unexpected—and to many, inexplicable—salary-dump trade of regular shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies.
End of outfield experiment for Aviles.
Aviles, who turns 31 on March 13, is a right-handed hitter with some speed who hit well after coming to Boston in 2011. He can play second, short and third—and even some outfield, as mentioned above.
At Concordia College he was the 2003 Division III Player of the Year, having hit .500 with 22 home runs. Kansas City drafted him in the seventh round that year, but it took him a few years in the minors to find his game. He finally earned a call-up in 2007 when he was 27 years old.
Aviles is a great fit with Boston if he gets regular playing time in a good lineup. "Even if the season starts with a Red Sox platoon at short," writes J.B. Gilpin of TheFakeBaseball.com, "Aviles can play third and second, along with some emergency outfield, should any injuries arise."
Bottom line: I don't think GM Ben Cherington would have moved Scutaro that quickly if his coaching staff had not reassured him that Mike Aviles was up to the task.
Here are five reasons to support that conclusion.