Photo Credit: Boston Herald
Blake Swihart now has the opportunity to show skeptics that his lack of production is the result of lack of playing time. I will remain a skeptic.
Opportunity often arrives with the misfortune of others and that summarizes Blake Swihart’s recent roster survival lifeline. Christian Vazquez suffers a broken pinky finger and quickly departs for the disabled list. Both Vazquez and fellow catcher Sandy Leon have picked up their game offensively since the early portion of the schedule when the catching duo was a noted weak link.
Swihart is most certainly a weak link based on his lack of hitting but was it lack of playing time or lack of talent? The 26-year-old switch hitter now has an opportunity to show playing time equates with increased production. I will remain a skeptic.
Just how much playing time will be centered on manager Alex Cora. Swihart is questionable defensively when compared to Leon and Vazquez and that can certainly be mollified with a rash of base hits. On that, again, I remain a skeptic.
The Red Sox did not dip into the minor league system or scan the rosters of other teams for a replacement part. A surge of confidence? Internally the Red Sox have the evaluation tools to make – hopefully – refined decisions based on the meld of metrics and traditional scouting input. That should provide a modicum of confidence for the once top-ranked prospect.
I would expect Swihart to get two starts per week with a judicious selection of games based on Leon’s condition, who takes the hill, and the opponent. A Swihart who suddenly starts to perk up is good news on two fronts: Team stability and as a potential trade chip. A versatile Swihart who uses a bat for hitting and not decoration could be of value elsewhere – if the Red Sox go in that direction.
If Swihart continues to be a non-factor offensively and mediocre defensively the Red Sox may just clear his roster slot when Vazquez returns. This is a career changing opportunity and just what type of career change we will soon discover.