Boston Red Sox: 5 Reasons Pedro Ciriaco Should Be the Starting Shortstop
When David Ortiz went down with an Achilles’ tendon injury on July 16, it looked as if the Boston Red Sox would have to go with a DH-by-committee to try to compensate for Big Papi’s absence.
Pedro Ciriaco has quickly changed all of that.
The Legend of Pedro Ciriaco has reached epic heights, and the slender utility man for the Boston Red Sox has proven that he belongs in an MLB lineup. With Mike Aviles battling a turf toe injury and out of the lineup for the past week, Ciriaco has gotten regular reps as the shortstop for the Sox.
Given the positive results for both Ciriaco and the team, the question must be asked: Is he the man for the job even when Aviles returns?
Although both have performed well all season, Ciriaco has emerged as a more viable option to be the everyday shortstop for the rest of 2012. While this is much more a move made because of the quality of Ciriaco’s play rather than the performance of Aviles, the Sox can ill-afford to wait to make a decision and let more games slip through their fingers.
Here are five reasons why the Sox should make Ciriaco the starting shortstop.
Ride the Hot Player
While it would be foolish to suggest that a one-month sampling is enough to definitively say Ciriaco is a better player than Aviles, the Red Sox should only be concerned with who gives them the best chance to win over the next two months.
Right now, Ciriaco is that player.
Conventional wisdom in most sports suggests that riding the hot hand is the best way to short-term success. Right now, that is all the Sox can be concerned with.
Aviles made huge contributions in the early part of the season, but his recent struggles are something the Sox cannot afford to weather patiently. If they want to contend this year, they need production immediately.
Starting with his blistering .419 average and seven doubles in spring training, Ciriaco has been turning heads in the Red Sox organization all year. Since being called up in early July, he is hitting .329, slugging .421and has stolen six bases in 76 at-bats.
Over that same stretch, Aviles is batting just .207, slugging .328 and has stolen one base in 58 at-bats.
With similar caliber defense being supplied by both players, the major difference would seem to be their offense. Clearly, Ciriaco has proven to be the superior player of late.
Close Wins with Ciriaco as Starter
The Sox need to win games. At 53-53, the Sox are still very mediocre nearly two-thirds of the way through their season.
With Ciriaco as the starter, however, they are more than that.
They have become masters of the late game comeback, with Ciriaco often finding himself in the middle of the rally. Ciriaco’s clutch hitting in the late innings against the Yankees last weekend delivered two huge wins for the Sox, giving them a little bit of momentum going forward.
While it isn’t a tangible contribution, any sort of energy and “magic” Ciriaco might provide would be a huge boost for this often listless team.
Aviles demonstrated last year that he can play nearly any position on the diamond, and that would provide a huge boost to the Sox coming off the bench the rest of the way.
Given the fragile state of Carl Crawford’s arm, the injury issue of Dustin Pedroia, and potential wearing down of Will Middlebrooks, there will be many spots for Aviles to get playing time. A demotion to super-utility man off the bench would likely not make a substantial dent in Aviles’ total number of at-bats.
It would also allow Aviles to rest his toe and get truly healthy, which he has not been for some time. He has been very productive when his body has been cooperating, but Aviles has also never made it through a full season unscathed.
With apologies to Jacoby Ellsbury, Ciriaco just might be the fastest player on the entire Red Sox team.
He has successfully stolen all six bases he has attempted, already tying him for second on the team. His two triples are tied for the team lead.
Quite simply, Ciriaco has the game-changing speed that Aviles does not. Batting Ciriaco ninth and following him with Ellsbury and Carl Crawford creates a nightmare for pitchers on the bases, and allows for the Sox to deploy any number of strategies for grinding out runs.