Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell may have been making a baseball decision, but in reality delivered the one message every fan has wished for their team since the beginning of time.
Contract doesn’t matter, performance and dedication does.
And that’s how Pablo Sandoval became a different regime’s problem and a $95 million dollar bench player.
All too often we as fans have witnessed players getting valuable playing time whether because of nostalgia or dollar bills. It’s a current factor in the arch rival Yankees’ fifth starter competition, a battle between CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, the latter of whom makes roughly 20% the salary of the former.
At the end of the day every manager and GM will claim they want to put the best product on the field, but usually the logic is not wanting to create a hostile work environment or believing in a longer track record earning a big contract in the first place. Usually, logic is replaced by efficiency and keeping am eight figure salaried player on the bench is not efficient.
But the story has a different ending, at least for now, in Boston. The team’s brass decided Sandoval didn’t follow directions when he showed up to camp out of shape. It decided Ben Cherington may have made a poor decision to sign him, but Dombrowski wouldn’t have to live with the repercussions. They figured out Travis Shaw was a worthy replacement, a semi unknown player who is younger, fitter, and has outplayed Sandoval on offense and on defense.
Shaw showed up to a last place team last season and worked his butt off. Shaw showed up in the spring serious about earning what he deserves.
Sandoval showed up after wasting a year of high income no more determined than he was the day he signed his fat contract.
And now he can take his .245/.292 /.658 2015 campaign and think about it a lot longer while he rides the pine. It’s cool to chat with girls during a game when you’re a World Series hero. It’s cool to not care about your body when you have a fun nickname and you’re winning titles. But when you get your payday and play terribly in a media market where everyone is watching, you had better show up the next spring and at least pretend you care.
Maybe now Sandoval will start caring about his future rather than reflecting on his past filled with both memories and with counting dollar signs.
Maybe that’s what Dombrowski is counting on in the present.