Boston Red Sox: Optioning Jose Iglesias to Triple-A Pawtucket Is the Right Move

Adam MacDonaldAnalyst IIMarch 27, 2012

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Jose Iglesias #76 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait during the Boston Red Sox Photo Day on February 20, 2011 at the Boston Red Sox Player Development Complex in Ft. Myers, Florida  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

In the last few weeks of spring training, a debate was gathering momentum: should prospect Jose Iglesias be the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day?

It was not a debate we expected to have in March; it was widely assumed that Iglesias would start the season in the minor leagues and perhaps be brought up in mid-season. Of course, things are changing this year under new manager Bobby Valentine.

Bobby V is not one to mince his words and he was clear that he wanted to start Iglesias, or at least that he was leaning heavily towards going down that road. The 22-year-old Cuban is a defensive phenom—if he were in the big leagues, he might already be the best defensive shortstop—but his bat hasn't caught up with his glove.

Last year, he posted the worst OPS in Triple-A, batting a paltry .230. Despite that, there was suddenly a great argument to be had. Can you live with a woeful offensive player if he is video game-like with the glove?

For a while, it actually looked like Valentine would say 'yes' to that question and be writing Iglesias' name on the lineup card on April 5 in Detroit. In the end, it was not to be, as the news broke Tuesday morning that he had been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

It was the right move. He was just not ready.

Including Iglesias on the Opening Day roster would have been gross shortsightedness on Valentine's part. Then again, why should he care? He has a two-year contract and he knows he's not viewed as a long-term solution as manager. He's Supernanny coming in to fix the problem, and then he'll be on his merry way.

Bobby Valentine cannot play the long game here; he has to win now. Playing Iglesias now is the best thing for the 2012 Red Sox. It gives them the best middle in all of baseball, with Iglesias, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury all playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. However, it's not the best thing for the Sox or Iglesias in the long run.

Iglesias is a supreme talent and has great potential but you cannot afford to rush him to the majors. Struggling at the big league-level could kill his confidence, especially in Boston.

The Red Sox had one of the top three offenses in the entire league last season and fans still weren't happy with the production, complaining that there were too many automatic outs at the bottom of the order.

There weren't, but play Iglesias and there will be.

He cannot hit yet and it's impossible to say what kind of effect it will have on the kid's psyche to be in Boston hitting below the Mendoza line. Just going into a convenience store can result in your being bombarded with questions about why you swung early at a really bad pitch the night before. Every move is scrutinized in Boston.

The city is a pressure cooker. We saw the impact it had on Carl Crawford last year, as he went from one of the most well-rounded threats in the game to a punchline.

Perhaps Iglesias is made of sterner stuff but that's not a risk you can take. The Sox have to nurture Iglesias' talent and help him become a better hitter for the future.

Bobby Valentine might not care about that because he'll probably be gone by then—but he should. He's the manager of this team and he has to make the right decisions, not just for this year, but many years down the line too.

By having Jose Iglesias start the season in Triple-A, that's exactly what he has done.

Adam MacDonald has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. He also writes about cricket a fair bit. He likes video games and sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.