The addition of Will Middlebrooks to the San Diego Padres was pretty much under the radar in the off-season make over. While Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and James Shields stole the spotlight as far as acquisitions go, Middlebrooks is proving to be a noteworthy addition to the team. Most Padres fans knew of the former Boston Redsox slugger, but they probably were unaware of the intangibles he brings to the game. He is displaying them early on in April, and manager Bud Black is more than happy with what he has seen.
Middlebrooks was acquired from the Boston Redsox for backup veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan, who was only a Padre for a matter of hours. Hanigan was in the blockbuster deal that brought Wil Myers to the Padres from the Tampa Bay Rays.
When this deal went down I was shocked that it only cost the Padres an overpriced back up catcher for Middlebrooks. I know he has battled injuries and his numbers have suffered, but I’ve always liked what I’ve seen from the right-handed hitting third baseman. He looks like a gamer to me. He has a lot to prove as well, and players like that generally have productive seasons. Even though his numbers have drastically dropped since his rookie year, Middlebrooks provides a solid powerful bat for the Padres.
Hanigan is due $3.5 million dollars in salary this season. That was probably the first motive in approaching the Redsox about a deal, but getting a young team controlled third baseman like Middlebrooks, was the absolute icing on the cake. Will Middlebrooks is looking like the best defensive infielder on the Padres. His .972 fielding percentage last season in 522 inning is well above the league average of .956. The man can pick it, and the Padres need all the defense they can get.
There is still plenty of games left in the season but this early Middlebrooks has pretty much solidified himself in the middle of the order. He has also made some very nice plays at the hot corner. With A.J. Preller at the helm, who knows what the Padres team will look like at the end of the season. I would imagine that he is still searching the other teams talent pool in an effort to improve the Padres.
Will Middlebrooks went five for fourteen (.357) in the four game series against the San Francisco Giants. He has a high strike out rate presently with eight strike outs in 27 at bats. Middlebrooks also just earned his first walk of the year on Sunday. In order to stay in the lineup he needs to work on those things, but all in all not a bad start on the season for the 26-year old slugger.
The season is a long road and the Padres need all their players to stay healthy. Middlebrooks has had some injuries over the past few years, but is feeling 100 percent right now. With the depth the Padres have at third base. There really should not be any issues. Yangervis Solarte, Cory Spangenberg and even Jedd Gyorko can play third base if needed. Will Middlebrooks has solidified the position for now, so no need to think about a possible replacement. The slugger seems happy and content to produce in his new California-based team. Padres fans welcome him and will support him in his quest to be an All-Star.