Will Middlebrooks arrives at San Diego Padres camp ready for a fresh start. After a promising start to his big league career back in 2012, when he hit 3 home runs in his first 5 big league games. Injuries have plagued him ever since. He was limited to 215 at-bats in 63 games last year, hitting just .191.
The Padres traded for Middlebrooks hoping he can get back to his 2013 form when he hit 17 home runs in just 94 games. His “162 game average” for home runs is 34. Imagine if he can stay healthy and hit like he did 2 seasons ago. Yangervis Solarte is not bad himself but you need that kind of power at the hot corner.
Those two are locked in a battle for the starting job. The edge may go to Solarte due to his switch hitting skills. Middlebrooks has all month, and probably more, to prove that he is the guy.
The Padres need to find a long-term solution after the departure of Chase Headley. Both Solarte and Middlebrooks have decent arguments. Middlebrooks has more offensive upside. He is confident in his abilities and knows he can bounce back.
He left Boston with a sour taste in his mouth and he is looking for a good start in San Diego. He has impressed so far. He will most likely get every opportunity possible to earn the starting third base job. Usually when a team trades for a player, they want to allow him every chance possible to earn that spot because they went through the trouble of acquiring him.
That is not to say he won’t split time with Solarte. There has been talk of putting Middlebrooks at 1st base in place of Yonder Alonso against tough lefties, thus opening up the third base spot for Solarte. Do not be surprised if Middlebrooks and Solarte find themselves in the same starting lineup sometimes.
Another great thing about Middlebrooks that seemed to be a theme among most of A.J. Preller’s acquisitions is that he has postseason experience. He was part of the 2013 Red Sox championship run. He played in 10 of those games and had 2 doubles and an RBI.
With a lot of offensive pieces coming in, the Padres don’t need Middlebrooks to hit 30 home runs and hit .310. If he can prove to be a solid glove with .270/15-20 HR kind of numbers, the Padres win that trade.
This position battle will be one of the most closely watched things during this month. Middlebrooks says he is feeling healthy and ready for this new challenge. Of course, his bat and glove will really tell the story. We will see Padres fans, we will see.
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