Will Middlebrooks’ Recall Could Boost Offense, But Red Sox Should Have Given Xander Bogaerts a Shot

Will MiddlebrooksSometimes, a change is a good thing, even if it’s not the best thing.

(What the heck is he talking about?) Allow me to explain.

The Red Sox absolutely needed to do something about their third base situation, as the platoon of Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder hasn’t been working out. The duo is hitting a combined .108 (4-for-37) with no home runs and three RBIs since July 31, and while the Red Sox haven’t completely fallen apart since then, the offense could certainly use a shot in the arm.

The Red Sox finally made a change Saturday, even if they were officially forced into the decision. Snyder was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what is being described as right elbow ulnar neuritis, and Boston recalled Will Middlebrooks.

Because the Red Sox needed to shake things up, recalling Middlebrooks inherently means that they’ve taken a step in the right direction. They just haven’t taken the right step.

Despite an awful stint with the Red Sox earlier this season, which led to his demotion, Middlebrooks definitely has more upside than either Holt or Snyder. Middlebrooks has also made strides at Pawtucket of late, hitting .333 during an eight-game hitting streak and flashing the power that made him a fan favorite during Boston’s abysmal 2012 season. But all the while, Xander Bogaerts has produced, and he should have been the guy called up to replace Snyder on the major league roster.

There’s a chance that Middlebrooks could come up and put into motion his “wake and rake” mantra. Perhaps we’ll see more of the 2012 Middlebrooks (.288 average, 15 homers, 54 RBIs in 75 games) than the 2013 version (.192 average, .228 on-base percentage, 60 strikeouts in 53 games) and the Red Sox will head into the stretch run with a lineup featuring much more pop. But there’s also a chance that Middlebrooks could falter, in which case we’re still left wondering what exactly the Red Sox have waiting in the wings.

Bogaerts, who is hitting .289 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 52 games since being promoted to Triple-A back in June, might be a wild card, but he comes with the greatest potential reward. It’s not that Middlebrooks is incapable of giving the Red Sox’ offense a boost. It’s just that Bogaerts figures to be a truly special player, and there’s nothing that indicates he wouldn’t make an immediate impact, whereas there is information that suggests Middlebrooks could struggle.

Perhaps the Red Sox just want to see what Middlebrooks is capable of before turning to a 20-year-old kid. If they had done things the other way around, though, there’s a good chance that Bogaerts would have rewarded the Red Sox immediately.

In other words, Middlebrooks represents a better bet than a Holt/Snyder platoon. But why not check out all of the cards in the deck before putting together the best hand come September?

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