Red Sox leaning toward Jose Iglesias as starting shortstop

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Boston traded away Mike Aviles in the deal for manager John Farrell and the free agent shortstop class is an extremely weak one, so not surprisingly it looks like the Red Sox are planning to have 22-year-old rookie Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop in 2013.

Nothing is set in stone, of course, but general manager Ben Cherington said acquiring another shortstop is on the “back-burner” behind more pressing needs and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that Iglesias stepping forward to claim the full-time job “is clearly what they are hoping will happen.”

“We think Jose is ready to help the major league team, depending on what the rest of the team looks like,” Cherington said, adding that “nobody is going to be given anything” and “if he’s given an opportunity to win the job in spring training, then he’ll have to win the job.”

Iglesias is an elite defender capable of making some truly spectacular plays, but there are major questions about his bat. He’s hit just .251 with two homers and a .589 OPS in 189 games at Triple-A and batted .135 in 35 games for the Red Sox.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.