Mookie Betts Part of Future Success for Boston Red Sox

Mookie BettsWhether it is via a trade or playing in the outfield, Mookie Betts is poised to be part of the success of the Boston Red Sox over the offseason and moving forward.

The 21-year-old has held his own this season with a .285 average to go along with 14 extra-base hits, including eight doubles an five home runs, in 165 at-bats. He has also stolen six bases in nine attempts. Sure, he has had some stretches in which he has trouble with patience at the plate, but he has kept composure in a lost season for the Red Sox.

In the field, he has shown that changing positions has not affected him as he has made some great reads in center while also playing eight somewhat successful games at second. He has just two errors combined in 45 games (44 started) this season. While he does not have a long-term spot at second, the Red Sox have a chance this offseason to make sure he does have a spot either on this team or as a part of a big picture deal in a trade for a front-line starter or a power bat.

Betts has shown versatility, which benefits the Red Sox and other teams. If injuries occur, then he could slip right in for any outfield spot while also sliding into second in a pinch.

Not only that, but he has a quality combination of speed and power that has been the norm for recent players success. Players like Andrew McCuthchen, Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig and even Carlos Gomez all have shown to have power and speed in their repertoires. However, Betts might not be as powerful or fast as any of these players. He might not pan out and could be a one-and-done player, but taking a chance on him might be the best option for the Red Sox mobing forward.

If the Red Sox decide to sell high on the prospect, then they need to get something that improves this team now. It could be Giancarlo Stanton or even a Chris Sale, but, whatever the Red Sox decide to deal for this offseason, Betts is a candidate to be in the deals.

Betts has shown that he can play at a high level and that can benefit the Red Sox in multiple ways. But I say trade him before he fizzles out.

Rusney Castillo Making Headway

Rusney CastilloRusney Castillo is going to be paid $72.5 million over the next six seasons, but he still has a long way to go to prove that he deserves that long-term contract.

Since being called up on September 17th, the 27-year-old has had one hit in every game while playing center field in four out of five contests. The .250 average isn’t daunting, but it is a step in the right direction. He got his first major league hit out of the way in just his second at-bat as he reached on an infield single to second while at PNC Park.

Now, all these hits have been singles, but he has shown that he has the patience to be a big league player with just two strikeouts in four games. Sure, the zero walks is concerning, but those will come once he gets used to the strike zone in the U.S. With only one week left in the regular season, Castillo needs to be poised and ready to play some ball at the Arizona Fall League.

The Cuban defector has shown some ability on the defensive side of the ball as well. He has made a couple nice reads and diving plays in the outfield at times while also throwing a guy out at home on a single right up the middle. He might not have the speed/glove of Jackie Bradley Jr., but he makes up that difference with his athletic build and abilities.

So far, Castillo has shown that he has potential, but he needs to get his feet more wet in baseball activities to really show what he can do for the Red Sox in the coming seasons.

Boston Red Sox Want Will Middlebrooks to Play Winter Ball

Will MiddlebrooksBen Cherington talked to the media for some time on Wednesday afternoon before the Boston Red Sox 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. According to multiple reports, several topics were touched upon, but the most interesting had to be the topic of Will Middlebrooks possibly playing winter ball instead of taking four months off during the offseason.

The oft-injured third baseman has yet to really show who he his due to inconsistent at-bats as well as several long-term injuries over the past couple of seasons.

If Middlebrooks really wants to show that he wants to be a part of the offensive attack in the coming seasons, then he would be wise to listen to the Red Sox front office, play more baseball and work on his swing prior to spring training.

According to ESPNBoston.com, ““Sure it’s frustrating for him,” Cherington said. “It’s frustrating for us to some degree because we know he has the talent to perform, the physical tools to do that. It hasn’t happened. He’s got to find himself as a major league hitter. We believe he will at some point.”

Since the start of the 2013 season, the 25-year-old has hit .211 in 556 plate appearances while walking just 31 times and striking out 153 times. The power has lacked with just a.375 slugging percentage and .639 OPS over that span. His last home run came back on April 26 against the Toronto Blue Jays, which is a staggering 145 at-bats.

With missing major time over the last two and a half seasons, Middlebrooks needs to show the Red Sox—as well as prove to himself—that he still has the raw right-handed power and talent to perform at the major league level, specifically in a big market like he did in 2012.

It would benefit both himself and the Red Sox if he takes on the responsibility of playing winter ball this offseason.

The Game Plan for Rusney Castillo

Rusney CastilloThe Boston Red Sox officially signed Rusney Castillo a little over a week ago. After his work visa was approved, Castillo immediately was sent to Fenway South to workout at the complex the team uses during spring training.

After a couple of days, Castillo got his first chance to play organized baseball in over a year. In a playoff game with the Gulf Coast Red Sox, against one of the two Gulf Coast Yankees teams in the second of a three-game series, he went 1-of-2 with a single in his first at-bat on Sunday.

In the final game for the Gulf Coast League championship, Castillo got the chance to play center for five innings and went 0-for-3 with a bases-loaded walk to drive in his first run as a Red Sox farmhand.

With several of the Red Sox minor league teams still playing due to playoffs, the 27-year-old should get plenty of at-bats depending on how far the teams get in their respective playoffs.

Castillo’s next stop will be Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs on Wednesday as the team starts the Eastern League playoffs, according to multiple reports. The Sea Dogs will be taking on the Binghamton Mets in a five-game series.

Once he gets enough quality at-bats, he should find himself with the Pawtucket Red Sox sometime next week as long as the team advances past the Syracuse Chiefs in a best-of-five playoff series.

Whatever happens, Castillo should be able to come up by mid-September during a 10-game road trip through Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

2014 Red Sox Could Still Finish Better Than 2012

2014 red soxThe 2014 Red Sox might be 58-75 through 133 contests this season, and a playoff spot is way out of the picture with about a month to go in the regular season, but the team has a real chance to perform better than it did back in the Bobby Valentine era.

Through 133 games back in 2012, the Red Sox were 62-71 and were only a mere 14 games out of the AL East while also trailing the Wild Card by 12 games. In 2014, the Red Sox are 18 games out of the division and 14.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. There was no second Wild Card in 2012, which means the Red Sox would have a 20.5 game deficit if those rules were still in effect.

Through the final 29 games, the Red Sox went 8-21 and lost 12 of their final 13 games to have their first losing season since 1997. The team went 78-84 that year.

The Red Sox played 22 of those contests against AL East opponents in a year that the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays all had a shot at making the postseason.

This year, the 2014 Red Sox have 22 games against the division remaining, but have a chance to play spoiler, especially to the Yankees who play the Red Sox six more times this season. The team currently needs just a 12-17 record the rest of the way to be a squad that is still better than the worst team in the new millennium for the Red Sox. However,  if the team plays over .500, then it might have a shot at closer to 75 wins in a lost season.

There is always next year. Right?

Boston Red Sox Outfield Surplus

red sox outfield 2014With the recent addition of Rusney Castillo, that gives the  Red Sox eight legitimate candidates to compete for outfield jobs in the spring of 2015. Other than Castillo, the Sox have Yoenis Cespedes, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Brock Holt, Allen Craig and Daniel Nava. I didn’t even include minor league prospects such as Bryce Brentz and Alex Hassan in that mix.

To be realistic, the Sox will probably only carry four outfielders. Advantages to carrying Brock Holt is that he can play anywhere on the diamond except pitcher or catcher and Allen Craig who can also play first base. Some folks will need to go in order for the numbers to work. Rusney Castillo will be given every shot to win the center field job. You can probably lock in Yoenis Cespedes in left field,unless another major trade happens, and possibly Shane Victorino if he is healthy. Victorino went on record as saying he is planning on being the right fielder next year. That leaves room for one back up among the others.

If Victorino isn’t healthy, Jackie Bradley Jr. would then move into that spot as the Sox have said they like employing two center fielders in the outfield. Mookie Betts would likely start the year at AAA Pawtucket as would Bradley Jr. if Victorino is healthy and can regain his productivity. You would think that Allen Craig came here to start and play everyday and not just be a fourth outfielder. Another scenario could be moving him to first base and possibly trading Mike Napoli.

A case could also be made to keep Daniel Nava as he is the only left-handed bat among that group. I expect him to get traded though as early as now or September to a contender  that could use him as a push into the playoffs. He is playoff tested, after last season, and could draw interest from teams. The last guy in this equation is Brock Holt. He has done everything the Sox could ask for this season and then some.

Brock Holt has really bailed the Sox out with providing a legitimate lead off hitter to fill the void left by Jacoby Ellsbury. That was a spot that Grady Sizemore couldn’t handle nor could Jackie Bradley Jr. He is also a nice guy who plays hard and is a sort of throwback on all of the positions he could play. If not in the Red Sox outfield, he could be the back up utility infielder.

It should be an interesting final month of the year to keep an eye on how all these guys will fit in to the Red Sox outfield for the remainder of the season and in 2015.