If the Red Sox have gotten anything out of their $95 million investment in Pablo Sandoval — a baffling move in any realm outside of a marketing conference — it has certainly been entertainment. Last year, the Sand Oval’s most notable achievement was checking out Instagram while his team was on the field. This year, well, let’s just say he’s upped the antics to “FOX sitcom” levels. He showed up at camp grossly overweight. Had his belt explode mid-swing on national TV. Lost his starting gig to Travis Shaw, becoming a $17-million-a-season sidepiece. And now he’s been shuffled off to the 15-day DL with a “shoulder injury,” without the benefit of an MRI or any of the typical actions that accompany a DL move.
It’s a move that seems like the beginning of the end, except… where exactly can the Sox unload Sandoval? His stock has never been lower, and reports indicate that San Diego, once a suitor, has lost interest. There’s a taker for almost any semi-superstar player, but how much would the Sox be willing to eat to let him go? Especially if there’s even the slightest thought that he could get his shit together and be a formidable presence down a stretch run. Of course, Pablo now has enough money for the next four generations of Sandovals, so the incentive to shirk the burger bar for some hard hours in AAA to right himself may have all but evaporated.
So it’s likely this could stay at a stalemate for a while. Sando doesn’t exactly seem willing to shape up, and the Red Sox really have no urgent need for his bat or defensive skills in the line-up. Also, the checks are gonna get cashed. It’s all great fodder for folks who argue that baseball contracts shouldn’t be guaranteed. But it does nothing to help the Red Sox right now.
As to how it’s all gonna play out, well, you could probably call the stock market at Binary Uno with greater ease. I can’t imagine the Sox altogether cutting ties with such a sizable (d’oh!) investment, and I don’t see Pablo making any attempts to make things better. We can only assume that ownership is working the phones, trying to arrange a Carl Crawford-esque fire sale.
I’ll just say this: hearing Pablo get booed mercilessly by the hometown crowd on Fenway opening day was a painful thing. I felt bad for the guy. (Apparently not bad enough to not make a cruel joke in the title of this post, but still.) And once you run afoul of the fanbase, you’ve got to put in the hours to win back their hearts and minds.
I don’t see Pablo putting in the hours. So where do we go from here?