Boston Globe - Pablo Sandoval arrived at Red Sox spring training camp Sunday morning, looking exactly the same as he looked when he arrived last spring. Plus-size.
He was in a great mood. He said he has nothing to prove. He said he has no idea what he weighs. In a contradiction of what we’ve been told by Torey Lovullo, John Farrell, and Dave Dombrowski, Pablo said that nobody in Sox management asked him to lose weight during the offseason.
Not a great start to Spring Training for the Panda. I'm not as concerned with his February weight as some others (this is just who he is) but his comments are certainly concerning. Sandoval claims to have nothing to prove. Let's look at the stats:
Sandoval's career triple slash line is .288/.339/.452 (including last season) but last year he hit .245/.292/.366. WAR is a confusing stat but I'm pretty sure it's not a good sign that last season he was worth -0.9 wins above replacement. In a sense that means the Sox paid this bum $19 million to be worse than a replacement level player. Great.
Now let's look at Sandoval's stats from his time with the Giants. (Spoiler alert they aren't anything to tell your grandchildren about). He has hit 20 homers just twice in his career. Never more than 25. When you take a closer look his best season, 2009, it looks like an extreme outlier. That season he posted career highs across the board, hitting 25 homers with 90 RBI and a .330/.387/.556 triple slash line. What this means is Sandoval has never really been a great regular season player.
Perhaps expectations were a bit too high for Sandoval's first season in Boston. I think a lot of the disappointment from Sox fans comes from his contract. However it's not his fault that the Red Sox gave him $95 million. This was always my defense for JD Drew. The Sox overpaid and they know that. Sandoval was never going to be "worth" $19 million per year. The hope was that he would be close to worth that in the regular season and would live up to the contract in the playoffs.
Now all that being said I cannot understand why "Panda" thinks he has nothing to prove. He is coming off his worst season in a new market fresh off a gigantic contract. So the concerning part isn't that Sandoval is coming off a down year. It's that anyone playing in Boston needs to understand how the media here works. All Sandoval had to do today was tell us that last season was a tough year, that he is disappointed in himself, and that he worked hard over the off-season to be better in 2016. Instead he tells us he didn't weight himself once all winter and has nothing to prove. Not a great look.
PS while I am just as frustrated as everyone with his guy (I would obviously dump his contract in a minute if possible) I can't totally give up on him. We are probably stuck with him for four more years. He's only 29 and is going back to switch hitting this year. If (and that's a BIG if) he rebounds this season and has some big hits in the playoffs a lot will be forgiven. Until then however Sandoval most certainly has something to prove.