The focus of the power-struggle between Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine that sprung up during Red Sox camp this spring centered around two main issues: the status of Daniel Bard and Jose Iglesias.
Cherington wanted Bard in the starting rotation, Valentine didn't. Valentine wanted Iglesias as his shortstop, Cherington didn't. Fast forward to opening day and Bard is in the rotation and Iglesias is in Pawtucket.
Tonight in Toronto, we finally get to witness some indication of whether Bard can handle his new role, in what will likely be the most overly-scrutinized performance by a fifth starter in quite some time.
After two blown saves in Detroit, Valentine's view on Bard is gaining traction. How about the other issue? How's Iglesias doing in Triple-A?
He's performed as most predicted — a Rey Ordonez redux, that is.
After just 14 at-bats, Iglesias is hitting a lowly .071/.125/.071. Yet the key statistic here is the 14 at-bats.
For a quick comparison, Dustin Pedroia posted an OPS of .810 during his final full season in the minors ('06), while Iglesias put up a paltry .554 last year with Pawtucket. That would put him right around .100 points below Nick Punto's career average of .652 in 11 seasons. Nobody expects Iglesias to step in and remind people of Pedroia, but those numbers won't put him much higher than a defensive replacement on a major-league roster.
Despite Valentine's wishes, don't expect the glove-first shortstop in Fenway anytime soon. The Boston brass is still a sabermetrically-based organization and an ultra-light hitting shortstop doesn't compute.
A better guess for a call-up should the combo of Mike Aviles and Nick Punto falter is Pedro Ciriaco.
The 26-year-old Dominican sits at .333/.385/.333 at this early juncture, and was "named the best defensive infielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League system by Baseball America following the 2011 season," according to milb.com.
So, while not at Iglesias' level in terms of glove work, Ciriaco is up there, and is a far better option with the bat. He is also a better bet to get some plate appearances in Boston before his more publicized teammate.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the dearly-departed Marco Scutaro is sitting at .231/.231/.231 in 13 at-bats thus far, up-the-middle numbers no one is going to miss.
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