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Pablo’s weight becomes a big problem

By: Andrew McGill

Pablo Sandoval“Sandoval lost his job in the Spring, and now he may have just lost his belt,” exclaimed SportsNet’s Buck Martinez, as Pablo Sandoval threw his ruptured belt towards the dugout after snapping it on a swing Saturday against the Blue Jays.

Sandoval came into Spring Training overweight as exhibited by the viral picture of his gut that look way less than flattering–and Boston media scrutinized him tirelessly for it. It was questioned whether it would really hurt his play, but clearly it has as it cost him his job.

On Thursday, the Red Sox sent Sandoval to the disabled list for a mysterious left shoulder strain, which seemed to come out of nowhere. Sandoval was assigned to the DL before even receiving an MRI to confirm the degree of injury; not exactly the standard in MLB.

The rush to put Sandoval on the DL rather than diagnose the severity of his injury is a telling sign. The Red Sox are not going to play him if he is overweight, even despite his five-year, $95 million contract, which is a sentiment that manager John Farrell has had since they named 25-year-old Travis Shaw the starter just before the season.

There is a small chance that Sandoval can come back to the Sox if he loses weight, but it’s hard to bet on those odds coming to fruition. Shaw has gone above and beyond as his replacement so far this year and Panda is currently 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.

Sandoval didn’t exactly impress too many last season either, only batting .245, well below his career average, with 15 errors in the field.

Sandoval’s defense has been shaky since the beginning of spring training, and he already has one error in just one start at third base. It’s clear that his fielding is being affected by the weight, and his age is starting to become a concern that’s looming it’s way into the situation as well.

Sandoval’s weight has been a problem throughout his career. In San Francisco, they literally had to start a campaign called, “Operation Panda” in order to get him into shape. It hardly worked as Panda continued showing up to spring training overweight.

Despite the critics complaining about his weight, Sandoval has career batting average of .287 and is regarded as one of the most clutch postseason performers in the league.

Yet, Sandoval is turning 30 in August and is on the backside of the mountain. Putting extra weight on his frame at this point in his career is not the smartest of ideas.

Pablo insists that he’s intent on getting healthy and he wants to be an everyday player in Boston–and all he needs to do is get into shape to do that–but if he can’t prove to Red Sox management that he can do that then he’s not going to get a chance.

If his weight problem is causing him to inexplicably injure his shoulder in his sleep then it’s a concern, and if it’s causing him to snap belts during at bats it’s a major concern.

The Sox have a few options regarding what to do with Pablo from here:

1) They can scan the trade market for him try to trade Sandoval. This option seems like it makes the most sense, but Sandoval’s value probably isn’t that high. At this point you’d need to eat some of his salary, and most likely, attach a prospect to him. Now, unless that move is bringing you a number two pitcher, then the Sox shouldn’t take it because whatever they’d get in return isn’t worth losing a prospect.

2) They could keep Sandoval in hopes that he can turn it around and take over the third base role again, which seems to be least likely option at this point—unless he can get it together, but even then still.

3) They can straight up release Sandoval and just say, “sayonara!”. This would allow them to not only rid them of this headache, but they wouldn’t have to lose a prospect. Yes, they have to eat every bit of his contract, but it gets him off your bench and it’s better than having to give up a prospect, if you’re only going to get garbage in return.

The last option would goad the Red Sox into admitting fault for taking such a big risk, which doesn’t happen often for this ownership group, but it could be seen as a mistake made before Dombrowski came in to shake things up. It would just be like cutting the fat off of the meat; come to think of it, that’s exactly what it is.

Putting Sandoval on the DL gives the Red Sox an extra spot on the roster while Sandoval “nurses his injury”. In the meantime, Boston’s management should probably start making some phone calls.

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Andrew McGill

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