Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/21/12
For the third consecutive year, the Boston Red Sox will have a new Opening Day starting shortstop. Who that player is come April 1 in New York remains to be seen, but it probably won't be Mike Aviles. With Boston hiring former Toronto manager John Farrell to run the club in 2013 and beyond, Aviles will reportedly serve as compensation and go to the Blue Jays, according to Alex Speier of WEEI. But the Red Sox shouldn't be in too much of a bind without 2012's starting shortstop. Aviles, who started 130 games for the Red Sox in 2012 -- all but seven at shortstop -- did what was required of him on daily basis, but he never performed beyond that. Aviles hit .250/.282/.381 with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs for Boston last season, playing solid defensive as well. He provided much-needed offense when several key hitters in the lineup went down with injuries and managed to stay healthy for nearly the entire season. His overall production, however, started to drop as the season dragged on, and he was often sat in favor of Jose Iglesias down the stretch. Now, with Iglesias and Pedro Ciriaco under team control for the near future, the Red Sox will be more than fine without Aviles going forward. Iglesias is the shortstop of the future -- and has been for the last several years now -- and it seems as if the future starts in 2013. His failures at the plate have kept him from being the everyday shortstop in the Boston lineup in the past, but his defensive prowess has kept him the long-term favorite. Going 8-for-68 isn't pretty, no matter how you look at it, but Iglesias will get better offensively -- he has to. He'll have a full offseason to train on his own and should come into spring training looking to clean up his remaining holes. Farrell has yet to name who his hitting coach will be, but working with Iglesias will definitely be a priority. Even if Iglesias still can't figure out what he's doing with the bat, the Red Sox have Ciriaco to pick up the slack. Ciriaco flourished in more ways than one last season, his first in Boston. He hit .293/.315/.390 with 19 extra-base hits, 33 runs and 16 stolen bases in 76 games, and he seemed to perform best against the rival Yankees -- hitting .415 with 12 runs in 14 games against them. Ciriaco is the ultimate utility player and will compete with Iglesias for the starting shortstop job. Although he isn't as slick of a shortstop as Iglesias, he holds a strong advantage over him at the plate. He provides excitement in the Red Sox lineup, which is exactly what the team needs. One thing to keep an eye on, however, is who the Red Sox will receive from Toronto in the Farrell deal. That player has not been announced yet, but it would make sense for the Blue Jays to part ways with shortstop Yunel Escobar now that they have Aviles and Adeiny Hechavarria. Escobar underperformed in 2012 and also had a controversial non-playing incident as well. Throwing him into the mix, though, wouldn't hurt. Boston really just needs to survive until 2014 or 2015, when the team can promote shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts to the big leagues. Bogaerts is flying through the Red Sox' minor league system and could be in Boston in no time. It's still early, but he could be the guy who has Red Sox Nation forgetting about some guy named Nomar Garciaparra -- nonetheless Aviles. Aviles could be playing shortstop at Fenway Park on May 10, but he won't be wearing a Red Sox uniform if he does. And that’s just fine.
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