It all comes back to production.
That’s why the arrival of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to spring training was met with so much outrage. At least, that’s why I was furious with them over the weekend, when they both showed up to Fort Myers oozing the commitment level of a duo that didn’t have all that much to prove.
I mean, those were some of the first words out of Sandoval’s mouth.
“I don’t got nothing to prove,” he told reporters on Sunday, his first day in camp.
That couldn’t be further from the truth when you sign a five-year $95 million contract and finish your first season with the last-place Boston Red Sox hitting .245 with an OPS of .658, which was the 12th-worst OPS in Major League Baseball last year.
Sandoval has plenty to prove in a Red Sox uniform while making that kind of money. So you would think he’d at least make it sound like he’s committed to improving upon a brutal 2015. Because he certainly didn’t look the part.
And I get it, Sandoval has always been a big dude. Don’t waste your time tweeting me the photos. After all, I’ve defended the guy more than anyone else in this town over the last calendar year.
But let’s face it, had Sandoval showed us a better attitude this week, perhaps his weight wouldn’t be as big a story. In fact, forget the attitude and the weight. Had Sandoval actually produced last year, this column would probably be about what the Celtics didn’t do at last Thursday’s NBA trade deadline or what the Bruins should do at this Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
Same thing goes for Ramirez. He signed a four-year $88 million deal with the Red Sox and also had a horrible first year in Boston, hitting .249 with an OPS of .717. While his obesity wasn’t an issue when he reported to spring training last week — several days earlier than he was obligated to arrive — Ramirez decided the first “optional” weekend for positional players would be a good time to head down to Miami.
Unbelievable. Especially considering that Ramirez is expected to play first base this season, a position he’s never played before.
Some have called my fury an overreaction. Well, had either player actually earned their paychecks last season, I might tend to agree. But both Sandoval and Ramirez entered spring training as if they each hit .300 last year, played Gold Glove caliber defense, and helped the Red Sox to the playoffs.
Reminder: none of those things are true.
In fact, all of those things are pretty much the complete opposite of what happened last year in Boston. So, yeah, like I said, it all comes back to production.
When your everyday corner infielders make a combined $40 million, the expectation is that your combined RBI total will be more than 100, your OPS will be respectable, and your defense will be good enough where it won’t cost you enough games to keep you at the bottom of the AL East standings.
The Red Sox are paying Sandoval and Ramirez to put in the effort, show a certain level of commitment, and have a sense of pride to play for one of the most historic franchises in all of sports. More importantly, they’re paying Sandoval and Ramirez to help the team win, something they didn’t help do last year.
And at the end of the day, that’s all we really care about. Winning. If you don’t win, we’ll know why. And we’ll expect you to fix it, or do everything you can to try. So, yes, Sandoval and Ramirez do, in fact, have something to prove.
It would be nice if they at least acknowledged it.