Valentine has told a number of scouts from outside the organization that his clear preference is to have Iglesias open the season as his starting shortstop. Sources indicate, meanwhile, that the Red Sox front office is in favor of Iglesias getting additional experienced at Triple A Pawtucket to open the sesason, with Aviles opening the year at the major league starter.
Asked about the evaluation process before the Sox took on the Pittsburgh Pirates, Valentine was suitably cryptic
"I think we've seen a lot,'' said Valentine. "It will just be a determination on whether or not it's his time. He's played pretty well and showed really good progress. We've got to decide whether he has enough undergraduate credentials in order to take the next step forward.
"I think he can hit and field at the major league level. But I don't know that he can make the major league team and perform right now the way we need him to perform in this setting, in the group that we have.''
I have thought Iglesias would start the season at SS for a good while now. I would expect that Aviles starts the season and that Valentine's last line is the most important point. The rest is motivating Iglesias. Valentine is making all this noise now because when/if Aviles plays himself out of the job, Iglesias is going to get it, regardless of how he's hitting in AAA. Iglesias's defensive potential is off the charts - try and find someone who says he's not an above-average defender right now. The bat is a huge liability if his true talent level is reflected in his 2011 stats. However, there's signs that suggest his talent level might be higher and then it becomes a question of how much does the glove offset the bat?
On another note:
Since we all watch (presumably) watch every minute of every game, it might actually be possible to really quantify Iglesias's defense in a different, new, meaningful way. For that reason alone, I'm excited and hopeful about Iglesias's successful career here - SoSH's collective mind focusing on the defense (and metrics) intently. I'm looking forward to what our wizards will be able to discover during the coming Jose Iglesias Era.