WEEI’s Lou Merloni: “Give Rafael Devers a First Baseman’s Glove” - But Does it Solve His Fielding Problems?

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Rafael Devers has been a disappointment to begin the season for the Red Sox.  On Saturday, Devers made a costly error in Boston’s 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.  In the top of the fourth inning, Orioles’ Austin Hays hit a ground ball that Devers ranged to his left to make the play. 


Red Sox Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec slapping hands following a win over the Rays last season. / AP Photo by Chris O'Marra


Unfortunately, after he dove to catch the ball, when he got to his knees to make the play, his throw to second base sailed into right field. This allowed the Orioles to take a 2-0 lead at the time.

Devers should have yielded the play to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but instead he took charge and made a costly error. 


“He wants to make every play,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.  “And you’ve just got to make better decisions.  We love the effort.  That was a ball way to his left.  He gets to it.  But you’ve got to know who you’ve got next to you and you have to make better decisions.  Like I said, the effort is there.  If he makes that play, it’s a great play.  It’s an above average play.  I’d rather have Xander make the average play and move onto the next play.  We’ll keep working with him.  I think we just need to make better decisions.”


This was the second straight day that Devers defense helped the Orioles create opportunities for runs in an inning.  Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer immediately commented on Devers miscue by saying “You can’t hide him”. 


“I think defensively, the two games, we haven’t been sharp,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday afternoon following the team’s loss.  “We made some bad decisions.  We didn’t make any plays.  For us, it’s very important to play defense.  The team’s that play good defense, they win ballgames.  And the first two games, we haven’t done that.”


Devers made 14 errors last season, which ranked towards the tops among big-league third baseman in the regards to errors. 


With the defensive woes mounting for Devers, he is equally lost at the plate.  The usually smiling Devers is still looking for his first hit this season.  In Monday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Devers was the only hitter in the starting lineup without a hit for Boston. 


Devers went 0-5 in the blowout 11-2 win over the Rays while striking out twice at the plate.  The young third baseman has struggled to begin each of the last two seasons. 


According to the Twitter handle Red Sox Notes, through the first 32 games in 2019, Devers had zero home runs and 10 RBI, his last 124 games he slugged 32 home runs and drove in 105 RBI.

            

Last season, in the first 21 games Devers played he hit .183 with two home runs and five RBI. In the final 36 games he played he mashed, hitting .307 with nine home runs and 38 RBI. 


Is it time to move Devers to first base?  WEEI’s Lou Merloni said he thinks it’s time to switch Bobby Dalbec and Rafael Devers positions.  Most fans agree with Merloni’s sentiment on shifting Devers over from the hot corner to first.  Dalbec has also struggled mightily since the start of the season at the plate.  A shift from first to third might help the potential American League ROY candidate


Merloni believes that shifting Devers to first would solve the young Red Sox' infielders problem.  He also stated that he could be their first baseman of the future.  There is nothing to base this off of as Devers has never played first base since joining the big league club back in 2017. 


Former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis made the move to first base back in 2010.  Youkilis was a third baseman by trade, but became the club’s full-time first baseman after the Red Sox signed veteran Adrian Beltre to a one-year, $9 million deal. 


Rafael Devers on Saturday during the Red Sox loss to the Orioles. / Maddie Meyer - Getty Images

Who knows exactly what is going on with Devers?  In fact, no one even knows whether he is the answer at first base for the Red Sox.  There has been some chatter about an extension for Devers.  He isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season.  He wants to be here in Boston long term and in fact, he said that this spring. 


“Yeah, obviously I’m open to having those discussions when it’s right to have them,” said Devers.  “Obviously, this is the team that gave me my first chance to be a big leaguer so obviously, I have a lot of love for this ball club and this organization.”


It’s time to stop talking about an extension and start focusing on fielding a routine ground ball.  The Red Sox need Devers to figure it out and quick, because they can’t afford more lackadaisical miscues in the field after four games. 



Follow Chris on Twitter @chrishenrique

Check out the Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later, the Syndicate’s podcast dedicated solely to the Boston Red Sox and the rest of Major League Baseball. Follow our Red Sox Podcast to be Named Later on Twitter @RedSoxPod_BSS.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: WEEI’s Lou Merloni: “Give Rafael Devers a First Baseman’s Glove” - But Does it Solve His Fielding Problems?
WEEI’s Lou Merloni: “Give Rafael Devers a First Baseman’s Glove” - But Does it Solve His Fielding Problems?
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