In many ways, this was Mike Aviles' last chance.
Good in his rookie season, strong again in his junior year of 2010, Aviles' struggles in 2009 and 2011 had been offset enough by strong performances elsewhere to make some question which was the real Aviles.
Let it be known that Mike Aviles is a no-discipline middle infielder with some level of pop whose decent range is hurt by mental lapses in the field and relies largely on high BABIPs to survive at the plate. "Frustrating to watch" only begins to cover it.
Aviles certainly started the year hot enough, hitting .328/.358/.594 through the first 16 games of the season with four homers that had Sox fans thinking they had, at least in this, hit paydirt.
Then pitchers realized he would swing at anything--that same chopping swing every time--and he fell. Just eight games later his OPS was down below .800, and for the next three months he would hit like Yuniesky Betancourt. August would provide a small bounceback, but by September he had lost his starting job as Pedro Ciriaco and Jose Iglesias demanded playing time--the former for his early contributions, the latter for development.
The thing is it's hard to know what's going to happen with Mike Aviles going forward. His numbers against southpaws were better than his numbers against righties, but not terribly impressive all-the-same. Ciriaco's were about as good, and the team is probably more interested in keeping him on as a bench bat than Aviles. Unfortunately, though, there's no obvious replacements. Jose Iglesias' bat is still non-existent at the major league level, and with shortstop being what it is at the moment, it's going to be hard to acquire a worthwhile starter.
Still, even if alternatives aren't exactly in ready supply, Mike Aviles is not the answer. Shortstop is once again a question mark--a hole that at least needs patching.