Red Sox fans and national media outlets recently went crazy when this picture was taken of third baseman Pablo Sandoval at spring training with some noticeable weight gain:
The photo spread like wildfire and everyone in the Red Sox organization quickly came to the Panda’s side, with president Dave Dombrowski and team owner John Henry showing their support for their third baseman.
Many are saying that Sandoval may be a liability for the team over at third base this season if he cannot get his weight back down, and some feel Boston needs to rid themselves of the overweight and highly paid star. As Henry worded it, though, the weight isn’t as important as his ability to play the position.
I know a lot of people are upset about the whole situation, and people will be saying all year that the Red Sox are paying Sandoval $95 million over five years to come in overweight and not perform at a high level. On the flip side, what if he starts the season and succeeds and sets career-highs and leads Boston to victory? People will quickly forget about his weight and jump back onto the Panda’s bandwagon.
Sandoval did have a rough season last year, hitting just .245 with a .292 on-base percentage and .366 slugging percentage, which were all career lows. If he doesn’t bounce back quickly this season, Red Sox fans may be feeling déjà vu after the whole catastrophe with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez a few seasons ago. If that’s the case, it would be more understandable for Boston to try and make a deal to get a new and improved third baseman.
That’s where the problem lies, however. Fans have been too quick to write off Sandoval for his weight, without seeing his performance or giving him the chance during these next six weeks to get back into baseball shape. Henry said yesterday that Sandoval has been playing well at third so far during spring training, and that’s all he cares about. Whether or not he’s telling the truth is a bigger question, as many have been questioning his comment that Sandoval has just 17 percent body fat, lower than his percentage from last year.
Either way, it’s too quick to make a true judgement on Sandoval and this season without seeing a game and solely basing everything off of one picture. If the man can play, let him play and do what he needs to do. If he can’t perform at the level he’s getting paid to play at, then it’s time for a change. Just give him a chance.