And so, with regard to Bobby Dalbec, a simple question:
What do the Red Sox do now?
Admittedly, this is a question for the long term more than the short, though Sox manager Alex Cora currently has a day-to-day dilemma, too. Last night, with the right-handed Marcus Stroman starting for the Mets, Cora posted a lineup that was heavy on left-handed batters. Both Alex Verdugo and Kyle Schwarber were in the lineup, which was hardly surprising. The eye-opener was that Dalbec was in and Hunter Renfroe was out, which raises the question of why.
And truth be told, Cora answered that question before Sunday’s game, when he was asked why Schwarber was on the bench to start.
“Bobby – let’s put it that way,” Cora said. “Bobby has to play against every lefty and you have to pick and choose with Alex and Kyle. That’s the bottom line. Kyle will be fine. You know, he’ll play both games against the Mets. They’re going with two righties and Alex will play both games against righties. We’ll find a way to do that. But this is more about Bobby Dalbec than anything else.”
Well, now there’s a switch. In July and August, over concern for Dalbec’s play, the Red Sox picked not one, but two prospective first basemen – Schwarber and Travis Shaw. Now they’re finding ways to keep Dalbec in the lineup because, frankly, he’s deserved it. Dalbec’s sensational play has forced the issue.
So last night, Kyle and Alex played. And Hunter sat.
Once again, Dalbec delivered, this time with a 2-for-4 performance that included a Bezos rocket double off the center field wall. In his last 37 games, Dalbec is batting an eye-popping .336 with 12 home runs, 36 RBI and a 1.193 OPS that ranks second in the majors to only Bryce Harper. We should also mention that his defense has been, well, terrific.
Now, the mind of the sports fan being what it is … here’s the dilemma: Sox super-prospect Triston Casas, a first baseman, was promoted to Triple-A this week. By all accounts, he projects as a superstar and is on schedule to join the Sox at some point next season. Unless J.D. Martinez and Kyle Schwarber both become free agents – and there are effectively contractual options for both – the 2022 Red Sox at some point could have six players – Martinez, Schwarber, Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Verdugo and Casas – for what amounts to four spots. If you add in Renfroe, it’s seven players for five positions.
If they’re all here, what it a chief baseball officer to do?
Or, given his play, someone else?