Farm Report: Pawtucket Red Sox

Pawtucket Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have the luxury of having a farm system well stocked with talent. The stars of the future are currently honing their skills all across the Red Sox various farm clubs. Heading into their Wednesday games, the four Red Sox minor league clubs, Pawtucket, Portland, Salem, and Greenville are 70-50 overall and owners of the second best combined record for a minor league farm system.

The 19-15 Pawtucket Red Sox will look to get back to their winning ways today when they close out their four-game series with the visiting Toledo Mudhens. The Pawsox have now dropped back-to-back games for the third time this season.

Right-hander Ruby De La Rosa takes the ball tonight looking to rebound on a personal level having dropped his last two decisions while giving up eight runs (six earned) in the process.

Players to watch

Brock Holt

In early April, infielder Brock Holt became the first PawSox player to get promoted to the big club. Holt spent a day with the Red Sox before being returned to Pawtucket the following day. Two weeks later, following the reassignment of infielder Ryan Roberts, Holt officially made his 2014 Red Sox debut and batted .348 over seven games with four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base in 28-plate appearances. For the PawSox, Holt is batting .318 with a home run, five RBI and 19 runs scored over his first 85-at bats. Currently blocked at third base by Will Middlebrooks and the likely odd man out with the presence of Xander Bogaerts and the emergence of Garin Cecchini, Holt does not appear to have a long-term future with the Boston Red Sox. Holt, however, has value as a short-term option should Will Middlebrooks lose time due to injury or a bout of ineffectiveness.

Garin Cecchini

Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, Cecchini begins his first full season at Triple-A Pawtucket. Cecchini is widely considered as the number two overall prospects in the Red Sox organization and is likely at least another year or two away from making a legitimate impact at the major league level. Cecchini was added to the 40-man roster over the offseason and is viewed as the third baseman of the future. In 2013, Cecchini batted .322 with seven homers, 61 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and a .443 on-base percentage over 129 games between Single-A and Double-A ball. Cecchini, who is currently riding a 17-game on base streak, is batting .307 with one home run, 16 RBI and 15 runs scored over 97 at-bats for the PawSox.

Matt Barnes

Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, the right-handed Connecticut native has allowed just five hits and three runs over his last two starts, but has only a no-decision and a loss to show for it. On the season, Barnes is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 12 strikeouts over 16 innings pitched. The 91 pitches thrown on Tuesday versus the Mudhens were a season-high and a good sign that the shoulder inflammation that caused him to miss most of the month of April is no longer a concern.

Notes

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway has played 19 games at first base.

Outfielder Daniel Nava is batting .263 (10-for-38) and has reached base in eight of the eleven games he has played with the PawSox since his demotion.

20 of the 34 games played this season have been decided by two runs or less.

PawSox batters are hitting just .212, over 22 home games, with just 10 home runs.

PawSox manager Kevin Boles has used a different line-up in each of the team’s 33 games played this season.

The PawSox had a seven-game errorless stretch before reliever Drake Britton committed an error on Tuesday night. The errorless stretch was the club’s longest since 2011, also seven games.

The PawSox have yet to use a pinch-hitter this season.

The PawSox are picking up where the 2013 Boston Red Sox left off with 10 come-from- behind wins on the season, seven wins in their last at-bat, and two wins via the walk-off.

The PawSox are currently third in the International League with a .981 fielding pct. (23 errors in 1208 total chances).

PawSox pitchers have allowed just two home runs on the road this season, the fewest in the IL.

Time To Panic Red Sox Nation!

Time to panic Red Sox Nation

The time to panic is now. The time to panic, freak out, blow a gasket and/or go bananas is unfortunately upon us. The 2014 Boston Red Sox now rival my scholastic career when it comes to greatly underachieving.

Fresh off a 14-5 series-ending beat down at the hands of the dreaded New York Yankees, the Red Sox limped into Canada hoping that a change in countries, and copious amounts of poutine, would be enough of a motivating factor to get them back to .500.

The Red Sox managed to take two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, but once again failed to take that giant leap forward needed to get them fully back on track. After losing the first game of an eventual day-night doubleheader sweep to the Tampa Rays on Thursday, the Red Sox have now lost their seventh-straight game this season where a win would have brought them to at or above the .500 mark.

The current eight-game home stand concludes with visits from both the American League West leading Oakland Athletics and the scrappy 13-15 Cincinnati Reds.

This early May home stand will serve as a crucial turning point to the young season. The recent returns of outfielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks, from the 15-day disabled list, finally allows manager John Farrell the opportunity to consistently field the best possible lineup on a nightly basis; a lineup he had likely envisioned when the club began to take shape over the offseason.

Injuries and Major League Baseball’s newly expanded video replay system can be blamed for a large part of the team’s current situation, but they’re not the only things. The Red Sox have been, at various times, failing in all phases of the game. Consistency has eluded this team from the onset. Continually failing to string together more than two wins in a row has kept the Red Sox from emerging from the murky depths of the American League East.

The 2013 Red Sox made their mark by turning nothing into something on a nightly basis. A two, three or even a four-run lead did not seem insurmountable in 2013, it was just another opportunity for someone to step up and deliver.

The 2014 Red Sox will never be the 2013 team, no team ever will.

As we rip another month off of the calendar, we must keep remembering two things. First, seasons are rarely lost in April. Secondly, one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports is to repeat. Baseball can be a harsh reality at times. With each passing loss, long-time fans will begin to question the future of this great franchise while lining the Tobin contemplating whether or not to jump. This is Boston, this is what we do, this is what we signed up for.

Each game is an opportunity for the team to get back to their winning ways. Each game is an opportunity to turn nothing into something.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Option Daniel Nava

Red Sox Option Daniel Nava

The Red Sox recalled right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson prior to Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees. In order to make room for Wilson on the roster, the Red Sox optioned outfielder Daniel Nava to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The need to add a pitcher escalated after the Red Sox called upon their bullpen to throw over ten innings during the Monday and Tuesday games. The depleted Red Sox bullpen desperately needed an extra arm to provide some relief.

Wilson’s stay with the big club, although much-needed, appears to have been short lived with various reports of the young pitcher being seen packing up his stuff following the team’s 5-1 win over the Yankees on Wednesday night.

Wilson appeared in 26 games for the Red Sox last season and has struck out nine over eight scoreless innings this season for Pawtucket.

A corresponding roster move has yet to be announced, but there is a growing speculation that outfielder Shane Victorino’s return from the 15-day disabled list is imminent

Daniel Nava, who had one minor league option remaining, became the odd man out in the outfield rotation as a result of his slow start, Mike Carp’s lack of minor league options and the recent emergence of rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

After a strong 2013 season that saw Nava hit .303 with 12 home runs, 66 RBI and an .385 OBP, Nava opened the season as the club’s lead off hitter, but failed to consistently get on base in order to remain a fixture atop the Sox everyday lineup.

“We’re trying to get him going offensively,.” Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI’s Alex Speier on Tuesday. “He’s probably swung the bat a little bit more earlier in counts than we’ve seen in the past and that might be maybe some reflection of the current level of confidence. When he’s squared up some balls, he hasn’t seen the fruits of that too much. Like all players, they go through a little bit of a peak and valley and we’re trying to get him out of that right now.”

So far this season, Nava is batting .149 with a .240 OBP, two home runs and three RBI over 75 plate appearances. The media began to speculate of Nava’s impending demotion following the outfielder’s closed door meeting with manager John Farrell following the team’s 9-3 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night.

Sox Designate Ryan Roberts For Assignment

Ryan RobertsRed Sox utility man Ryan Roberts was designated for assignment earlier this week after batting .105 with a run scored and three walks over 22-plate appearances.

Signed as a short-term injury replacement for third baseman Will Middlebrooks on April 7th, Roberts was expected to serve as a temporary stopgap solution while Middlebrooks worked his way back into the Red Sox lineup from the disabled list, but that never happened. Roberts went just 2-for-19 with two bases empty singles, struck out over thirty percent of the time and was 0-for-11 versus left-handed pitchers.

As expected, Roberts has cleared waivers and has accepted an assignment to AAA Pawtucket

The 33-year old Roberts may have been doomed even before putting on a Red Sox uniform. Released at the tail end of Spring Training by the Chicago Cubs, Roberts had been out of baseball for about two weeks and the time away, while not really that long, was long enough to disrupt the timing of the aging utility man and make his stay in Boston a shade under two weeks.

Roberts does have some value to the Red Sox going forward, but he has to show that he can at least maintain a decent batting average against AAA pitching or play exceptional defense in order to be reconsidered for a promotion at some point in the future.

In 2013, Roberts appeared in 37 AAA games for the Durham Bulls splitting time between the Bulls and Rays. His first stint in the minors since 2010.

Injuries can and will happen over the long season and Roberts is only a rolled ankle away from making the drive back up 95.

Over the course of his baseball career, Roberts has been able to hit well against lefties and this ability makes him at least worth a stash in AAA for the time being. The Red Sox have already seen their fair share of injuries, over the first four weeks of the season, and having serviceable big leaguers waiting in the wings is a luxury that most clubs do not have.

Mike Napoli Dislocates Finger

Mike Napoli Dislocates FingerRed Sox first baseman Mike Napoli suffered a dislocated left ring finger during Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Napoli drew a one-out walk in the ninth and sustained the injury advancing to second base following a wild pitch.

X-rays came back negative and the dislocation was reset by a White Sox team doctor following the game.

The injury to Napoli does not appear to be serious, but may hinder the slugger over the short-term as he’s likely to battle a fair amount soreness during the healing process.

Mike Carp subbed for Napoli in the bottom of the ninth and failed to corral an errant throw by shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Carp’s inability to handle the throw allowed the winning run to score and allowed fans an opportunity to question whether or not the outcome of the game would have been different if Napoli had not been forced to leave the game due to injury.

The Red Sox offense has been struggling and cannot afford to be without Napoli for an extended period of time. Napoli has been one of the lone bright spots of the offense and currently leads the team in hits, home runs and RBI.

On the season, Napoli is batting .302 with three home runs and nine RBI over 53 at-bats.

An immediate timetable, for Napoli’s return, has not been established. Expect Mike Carp and Daniel Nava to be used at first if/when Napoli is not in the lineup.

Koji Uehara Sits With Shoulder Stiffness

Koji Uehara Sits With Shoulder Stiffness

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara was not available to close out the team’s 4-2 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night. Uehara felt some shoulder stiffness, while throwing before the game, and was held out as a precaution.

“Before the game today Koji felt a little stiffness in his throwing program, so we felt it best to stay away from him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Just precautionary. This will be a day-to-day type of thing. We’ll check with him tomorrow.”

Uehara felt a similar soreness in 2012, when with the Texas Rangers, and would go on to miss 66 games as a result. According to Uehara, he could have pitched, but the team opted to sit the veteran closer in order to avoid further aggravation to the injured area. Even though Uehara is in the midst of a dominant stretch, we must remember that he is still a 39-year old pitcher and it would behoove the Sox to practice extreme caution when it comes to maintaining his health.

Uehara has picked up where he left off last season turning in five-straight scoreless appearances with two saves, a 0.60 WHIP and seven strikeouts over five innings pitched.

Newly acquired setup man Edward Mujica took the ball in the ninth in place of Uehara, a move that sent shockwaves throughout Red Sox Nation. Mujica picked up his first save for the Red Sox and struck out pinch hitter Brett Gardner to end the game.

Mujica is a capable closer and shined in the role last season for the St. Louis Cardinals posting 37 saves before giving way to current closer Trevor Rosenthal. Mujica will continue to serve as the team’s primary closer should Uehara need to miss additional time. “He’s got a lot of success in that closer’s role,” Farrell said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in that ninth inning.”

The injury to Uehara does not appear to be serious and more will be known over the next few days.