Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Sox were perhaps the most aggressive of those teams. Area scout Danny Watkins was convinced that, even though Freese was old for his competition, his bat was legitimate.
“David was a hard-nosed player who was willing to sacrifice his body at third base and had a strong throwing arm. But, his defensive skills were just fringy average,” Watkins recalled in an email. “However, it was the consensus (within our department) that he had a better than fair chance of hitting (with some power) major league pitching.”
But a somewhat unexpected turn of events took place. South Alabama — thanks in part to a remarkable performance by pitcher P.J. Walters, whom Freese recalled beating Florida State in an outing of perhaps 150 pitches to bump up the team’s RPI — received an at-large bid to the College World Series Regional tournament. South Alabama’s season was prolonged beyond the start of the draft. And so, Freese could not sign with a team before the draft.
“If we didn’t make the regional, I was probably going to be a Red Sox before the draft,” said Freese. “I was close. Obviously, I’m glad the way things worked out.”
The way things worked out took Freese in anything but a straight line. He was taken by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2006 draft, a spot that reflected the questions about his defensive abilities, and as a senior without any negotiating leverage, he signed for just $6,000 — a fraction of what he would have gotten from the Sox had he been eligible to sign before the draft. He exceeded defensive expectations as he made his way through the minors, and Freese consistently mashed to secure prospect status beyond what one would typically associate with a player who went undrafted as a junior.
A nice story but at the end you can practically hear the ghost of Bob Lobel saying "Why can't we get players like him?" It's not that simple to say that if we had him, he would be playing the hot corner at Fenway.
Would he have done well down in the International League? Would he had that DWI charge down in Portland or Pawtucket, would the Sox have kept him? Even so, would he had survived the annual trade deadline moves? Maybe Freese be the final piece that would have made the Twins pull the trigger on the Johan Santana trade. We could speculate for hours about how far Freese could have went in the Red Sox organization or if he would've been the piece to a big trade.
Or we could just talk about the fact that we have some kid named Will Middlebrooks who is younger, in the Sox control for the forseeable future, and has all the tools to become a better third baseman than Freese.
This isn't supposed to be a knock on Freese either; he was an big piece to the Cardinals' World Series run last year and has been asked to do even more in order for them to repeat. His home run last night was a hell of a way to step up.
It sucks to read a story like this while the Red Sox are in the midst of chaos & the Cardinals appear destined to repeat. But it's not like the Sox are screwed when it comes to third basemen. It looks as if we might have been better off if Middlebrooks comes back & continues to play like he did before the wrist injury.
However, if he comes back like Nomar did...well then you can say something.
Herald: Ortiz talks on a variety of topics | CSNNE: Lamont still interested in managerial job | Sox to interview Pena & Hale | WEEI: Sox ton interview Hale, Pena | Farrell happy as manager of Blue Jays |