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Middlebrooks' health is not a certainty
When young third baseman Will Middlebrooks was removed from an early spring game in February due to wrist discomfort, Red Sox nation collectively started hyperventilating. Fortunately, the injury turned out to be benign.
With the Kevin Youkilis era drawn to a close, the Red Sox are relying heavily on Middlebrooks to turn into a star at the hot corner. However, his near injury revealed a previously unnoticed weakness in the Red Sox roster. There really isn’t anyone capable of backing up Middlebrooks if he were to go down with an injury.
Pedro Ciriaco has filled in at third in the past, but he doesn’t have the arm strength to take over the position for long stretches. Outside of Middlebrooks and Ciriaco, there isn’t anyone on the major league roster who has any experience at third base.
In the minors, Jose Iglesias has more than enough glove and arm to hold down the fort at third, but if he doesn’t manage to hit his weight, he won’t be too much fun to have around.
Drew Sutton is a somewhat familiar face in Boston after he posted a cool .315 batting average in 31 games with the big league club in 2011. However, Sutton is a minor-league journeyman who has minimal potential as a big-leaguer. He won’t be taking over for long stretches.
Brock Holt, acquired from the Pirates in the Joel Hanrahan deal, has solid defensive fundamentals around the infield. As an added bonus, his solid-average hit tool should allow him to post a quality on base percentage as a big leaguer. His fringe-average arm doesn’t profile well at third, but he is the best of many poor options.
The Red Sox can probably stand pat for now, but if Middlebrooks ends up on the disabled list for any extended period of time, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at the trade market for help.