Xander Bogaerts: The end of the long painful era.

Hey Sox fans, I have some good news!

No, Pablo Sandoval hasn’t gotten traded yet. But this is just as good.

The Boston Red Sox have FINALLY found their guy who can be the captain of the infield for years to come. That’s right folks, Xander Bogaerts is the guy we have all been waiting for. It only took 10 years.

Ever since Fenway legend, Nomar Garciaparra, was dealt to the Chicago Cubs back in 2004, things have never been the same at shortstop. We had players come and go and there was never a player who electrified the fans like Nomar did. The front office has been looking for a shortstop they can rely on for the future since Garciaparra’s departure. Let’s just say it’s been a long hunt.

When Nomar was sent to the Cubs at the deadline, the Sox got shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Montreal Expos in a 3-team deal. Cabrera was a defensive wizard on the field in his tenure for Boston. He hit .294, 6 home runs, and drove in 31 RBI’s in the second half of the season. Orlando was a key factor in the Red Sox winning the World Series in ’04 and ending their 86 year curse. People thought he was going to get re-signed and be Nomar’s replacement for years to come. But in the offseason, former general manager, Theo Epstein, decided not to re-sign Cabrera. Later that winter, The Los Angeles Angels signed him to a deal that left the Red Sox needing to fill in that hole.

As the 2005 season came along and the rings were being distributed to last years champions, Edgar Renteria signed a 4 year deal worth 40 million dollars with the Sox. People thought he was the answer seeing that Edgar had three silver sluggers under his belt and two gold gloves with the Florida Marlins and St.Louis Cardinals. The outcome was not what people were hoping for after Renteria made a career high 30 errors in the 2005 season. After the Sox were eliminated in the Divisional round by the soon-to-be World Series Champions Chicago White Sox, Renteria was traded to the Atlanta Braves. The Red Sox entered the offseason with the same problem they had a year ago. They needed to find a reliable shortstop.

After the Renteria signing was a bust, the Sox decided to pay a little less money and sign Álex González to a 1 year deal worth 4 million dollars. González didn’t do too bad for the Sox. His average was a little low, hitting .255, but having players like Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz backing you up, you will be ok. His defensive presence was known around Boston as he had fans raise their eyebrows at the plays he made. Alex Cora was also the back-up where he played a significant amount during the ’06 season. Unfortunately, even though González didn’t have a bad year, Theo Epstein thought he wasn’t the answer and decided not to sign him to a multi-year deal at the end of the 2006 season. In the offseason, González signed with the Cincinnati Reds.

We head to 2007 on this roller coaster of disaster where the Red Sox now sign speedy shortstop Julio Lugo. Lugo played for the club that won it all in ’07, but I wouldn’t really say that he helped them. He had some moments where he would make a nice play in the field or get a clutch hit here and there. But his .237 batting average and 19 errors on the field weren’t what the Red Sox wanted for the future.

Lugo stayed with the club for two more years where he shared time at shortstop with rookie Jed Lowrie and veteran Nick Green throughout the ’08 and ’09 seasons. Álex González actually returned to the Sox during the 2009 trade deadline, but at the end season, both González and Lugo were gone and Jed Lowrie became the back-up in 2010 for another newcomer, Marco Scutaro.

Scutaro played for the team for 2 years and did relatively well. In 2010, he played 150 games while hitting .275, 11 homers, and brought in 56 runners. The 2011 campaign was a disaster for the Red Sox. Whether it was pitchers drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the dugout, or coaching problems in the clubhouse, they decided to clean house and let go out of a lot players, including Scutaro, even though he hit just under .300.

The 2012 season was a joke. It was going to be a joke after the signing of Bobby Valentine as manager. But for the shortstop situation, players like Nick Punto, Mike Avilés, and Pedro Ciriaco took turns in the starting lineup. Obviously none of them were making their case as to why they should keep their jobs when the Red Sox finished the season in last place of the American League East.

In the 2013 offseason, new GM Ben Cherington decided to sign Stephen Drew. His offense was a joke but his defense was great. He made his pitchers confident that if the ball was hit to him, the play was going to be made. Drew played 124 games and hit .253. Nothing special offensively but having him on defensive is what made him so valuable. During the 2013 playoff run where the Sox won their third championship in the 21st century, rookie Xander Bogaerts made a huge impact hitting .296 with a .412 on base percentage in the playoffs. His performance in October actually caused Drew to lose his job because Bogaerts was named the starting shortstop for the 2014 season.

When 2014 came along, fans were excited to see Xander as the everyday shortstop. The 21 year old was ready for the challenge.

eeeeh…not really.

Bogaerts played in 144 games and hit a terrible .240 batting average and a .297 OBP as the 2014 Red Sox finished in last place. His 20 errors didn’t help his case as well. Fans were annoyed and were probably expecting a new face at shortstop in 2015.

Not so fast.

When the 2015 season began, Xander was great from start to finish. At the end of the season, he finished first among shortstops in batting average(.320), on base percentage (.355), hits (196), runs scored (84), and doubles (35). He decreased his errors made on the field from 20 to 11 if you compare 2014 to 2015. To top it all off, he was rewarded with the Silver Slugger award for shortstops. Although the 2015 season was a disappointment by finishing in last place for the second straight year, you got to look on the bright side.

The prayers finally hit Red Sox Nation by rewarding them with a superstar. A superstar that is a shortstop. A superstar by the name of Xander Bogaerts. He will be 23 years old when the 2016 season rolls around. A 23 year old who has had his breakout season and has playoff experience. With Bogaerts now knowing what he’s capable of, it’s exciting (for a Red Sox fan) to know what he is going to do in the future.

Xander is going to stay with us for years to come. It’s hard to find a shortstop that can put up these types of numbers offensively and play some pretty good defense at the same time. Bogaerts isn’t a free agent until after the 2019 season, so the Sox still have him for the next few seasons. But when that time comes around, expect big bucks coming his way.

 

 

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