Andrew Benintendi a Solid Pick at 7

When the Red Sox picked Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi with the 7th pick in the MLB Draft on Monday, a lot of Red Sox Nation was left wondering “Why not Carson Fulmer?” The short answer to that question is this: Whoever the Red Sox picked wouldn’t make an immediate impact.

It’s important to remember that the MLB Draft is different than the NBA or NFL Drafts in Andrew Benintendithat picks will not make an immediate impact. The selection of Andrew Benintendi was one for the future. Right now, the Red Sox have a surplus of outfielders, but it 2 or 3+ years, when this kid is ready to make the jump to the majors, who knows where the Red Sox will be with their outfield situation. The only 3 guys locked up long term are Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig. The issue with Craig is he hasn’t been performing up to what we expected when we got him, so who knows if we’ll actually keep him through 2017, which is when he’s under contract until. And Jackie Bradley Jr. has a great glove, but a bad bat, but I could see him being used as trade bait to bring in some rotation help.

Now to Benintendi himself – he has the tools to be great. He burst on to the scene this year, after he struggled with injuries last year, according to Bleacher Report. His draft profile rates him at a 60 with hitting, 50 with power and fielding, and a 60 with his arm. He put up a .390 average, 18 home runs, 13 doubles, 54 RBI’s, and 22 stolen bases with Arkansas this past season as part of a run that led him to the SEC and National Player of the Year awards. The kid has the tools to be a star, and the Red Sox see that. Besides, the team has so many holes at the moment that it’s hard to nail down one particular area of need.

It’s hard to see how this guy is going to perform 2-3 years down the road when he’s ready to come up to the majors, but I like the pick. I just hope he proves me right.

Rusney Castillo Returns to PawSox from Disabled List

Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo returned to the Pawtucket Red Sox on Wednesday night after being activated from the disabled list, and went 0-4 with a strikeout as the designated hitter in their 5-1 loss against the Syracuse Chiefs. He was not in the lineup for Pawtucket’s 4-0 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday, which had an early start time of 12 PM.

Castillo had been sidelined since April 11 with a right shoulder injury,Rusney Castillo and John Farrell has expressed that he will need more playing time before having any chance of being called up to the majors.

“He’s missed significant time,” Farrell told Jimmy Toscano of CSNNE.com. “He’s going to need more than three to four at-bats tonight, or six to eight total. I think we need more than that.”

In four games for Pawtucket this season, Castillo is hitting .313/.353/.375 with a double and two runs batted in. He played in 10 major league games for the Red Sox last season, where he slashed a .333/.400/.528 line with two home runs, a double, three walks and six runs batted in.

With Shane Victorino on the disabled list, and Allen Craig struggling mightily at the plate, many are left to wonder how long it will be before Castillo gets the call.

Victorino was placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 25 because of nagging right hamstring injury, and has managed to do little offensively this season, hitting .143/.302/.171 with seven strikeouts in 12 games.

Craig has largely failed to live up the expectations the Red Sox had for him when they acquired him from the St. Louis Cardinals along with Joe Kelly in exchange for John Lackey at least season’s trade deadline. In 46 career games for the Red Sox, Craig has managed to hit only .125/.222/.172 with only four extra-base hits, including .118/.189/.118 with no extra-base hits in 17 games this season.

Although Boston’s offense has looked very good at times, they have still run into patches of inconsistency and at points been unable to take advantage of some good pitching performances, which have been hard to come by these days. After Castillo gets some more playing time in Pawtucket, it should only be a matter of time before you see him roaming the outfield at Fenway Park.

Should the Red Sox Move on from Allen Craig?

Allen Craig

As much as pitching is a concern for the Boston Red Sox right now, it is not the only issue for the team.
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Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli might be struggling a bit, but it is his backup that the team should be worried about. For some reason or another, they are using a spot on the bench for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig although his numbers allen craigrank among the worst in MLB history.

Depth at first base is not a problem for Boston with seven guys on the active roster (Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, Craig, Brock Holt, Pablo Sandoval, Sandy Leon, Ryan Hanigan) owning professional experience at the position. Not only is there is no shortage of first base depth for the Red Sox, but they also have one of the most crowded outfields in the game.
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While his numbers from the past speak for themselves, Craig might just be the worst hitter in Red Sox history. If he keeps up exactly what he has done in Boston, he would be in running for worst offensive performance in a season in league history (excluding pitchers).

In 111 at-bats for the Red Sox (from this year and last year), he is a .126 hitter and has struck out in 42 of those AB’s (37.83% whiff rate). To put it this way—if he had 600 at-bats (highly unlikely), he would set the record for most strikeouts in a season. Whiff rate is not even his biggest concern at this point, it is getting hits.
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Even if Craig managed to play well for the Red Sox, keeping both him and Daniel Nava is still overkill. At the best of their abilities, they are almost identical players—except Nava has tenure.

With the amount of pieces Boston has to play with perhaps getting some speed on their bench, or someone who hits left-handed pitching, would be a little bit more useful. They lack a true backup center fielder which would be more useful than having three left fielders.
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Keep in mind that not only does Boston have Rusney Castillo (Disabled List) and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the Minors, but Bryce Brentz and Quintin Berry as well. Perhaps one (all) of them could hit better than .126 in the big leagues.

Time to Move on From Mike Napoli?

Mike Napoli

The Boston Red Sox 2015 campaign is in full force and their lineup has been pretty much what we expected it to be to this point. One guy who just hasn’t been able to come around at the plate, and continues to punch out almost two times a game, happens to be Mike Napoli.

Napoli’s struggles this year aren’t anything new, but they come as a bit of concern. Napoli batted .248 last season which was the second lowest average of his careerMike Napoli dating back to 2007. Napoli also accumulated a slugging percentage of .419 which was the lowest of his career. There was no hiding it—Mike Napoli struggled big time in 2014, but so did a lot of Red Sox hitters. The concern that I have is that Napoli had facial reconstruction during the off season to help cure his sleep apnea issue that has been haunting him for much of his career. Napoli decided to get the surgery during the off season because his struggles at the plate were magnified by the Red Sox struggles as a team. Napoli seemed like he had turned the corner, and was ready to really break out in 2015 as he hit above .300 this spring with a couple of home runs, but he’s back to the same.

Napoli is currently hitting .132 on the season with no home runs and no runs batted in and is posting a .267 on base percentage to go with a .184 slugging percentage. Yes, Napoli is great with his glove and draws a lot of walks, but he’s hitting in the heart of the Red Sox order and is being called on to drive in runs which he is not.

My solution to this would be giving Allen Craig a shot at first base for a series or two. I am higher on Craig than a lot of people, I think. Craig to me is a star sitting behind an aging veteran who is just not getting the job done. Baseball fans seem to forget that while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, Craig hit .315 with 14 home runs and 96 runs batted in. The year before that Craig hit .307 with 22 home runs and 92 runs batted in. Both years Craig was in the middle of a heated NL MVP candidacy, but lost out. I don’t know how many Red Sox fans I speak for, but I think it’s time to give Craig a shot; if he can be half of what he used to be I’ll take it.

What Would it Take To Get Doug Fister?

Doug Fister

With nine games in the books, the Boston Red Sox have taken two out of three games three times this season. Yes, now two out of three is nice, but Boston seems to be relying on their offense way too much. Teams that have done that in the past, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays, have not been able to succeed down the stretch.

Three times in nine games this season, a Boston starter has allowed over seven runs and that’s something to be worried about. Well, Washington has a pretty good pitcher named Doug Fister Doug Fister that could be up for grabs.

Right-handed Doug Fister, 31, is entering his second season with the pitching-heavy Washington Nationals. Fister is also entering his last season under contract and will be heavily targeted come free agency. So, what does Washington do?

Washington has shown it’s not going to shy away from committing big time money to big time players, as they gave ace Max Scherzer seven-years and $210 million, but Fister could be in a different situation. Washington’s lineup has really struggled at times this season and we’ve seen Boston go three deep into their bench and still put up ten runs. Washington also has 28-year-old Jordan Zimermann(2.66 ERA in ‘15) up at the end of the year as well.

 Here is my proposed trade:

Boston Trades-

1B/OF- Allen Craig

3B- Garin Cecchini

Washington Trades-

SP- Doug Fister

This trade would be a good deal for both teams. Boston would be able to grab that work horse veteran starter that they desperately need come playoff time. Fister and his 3.32 career ERA would immediately work at the top of the Red Sox rotation, adding an arm Red Sox fans would be comfortable throwing out there come the playoffs. Justin Masterson would be able to slide into the bullpen, where he excels, and also be able to make spot starts here and there. Washington would acquire an a-plus bat in Allen Craig who can fill in for the injury prone, Ryan Zimmerman. Craig would also bolster a thin Nationals bench. Cecchini would serve in a utility player form for Washington, as he can play third base as well as outfield.

Rusney Castillo Is Making His Case for Outfield Spot Heard

RUSNEY CASTILLO

Rusney Castillo, an international free-agent the Red Sox inked to a 7-year, $72.5 million contract last August, is making Boston’s decision on which outfielders will start the season in the majors very difficult.

Castillo launched a 10th inning pitch from Minnesota’s Jake Reed over the left-field wall on Thursday at JetBlue Park, giving the Red Sox a 5-4 lead and the victory. In six Spring Rusney CastilloTraining starts thus far, the 27-year old Cuba native is hitting .235/.235/.706 with two home-runs, a triple and four runs batted in.

Despite missing two weeks of Spring Training with a left oblique injury, Castillo has wasted very little time showing that he is in-game condition.

“It’s definitely gratifying, especially given I came up a little short in the previous at-bat with the bases loaded,” Castillo shared with MLB.com’s Ian Browne, using his interpreter Adrian Lorenzo. “It was nice to kind of pick up my team and be able to have that at-bat be a home run, especially to decide the game.”

“I’ve always enjoyed those moments because it’s a time when the fans are expecting you to decide the game,” Castillo said in Spanish in an interview with USA TODAY. “I like being in those situations and I try to focus in those at-bats.”

Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts seem like locks to start the season in the outfield, which leaves Castillo, Allen Craig, and Shane Victorino vying for the starting right fielder position. Castillo has the most minor league options out of those three candidates, so it seems as though the easiest move would be to start him in AAA to begin the season.

“I don’t worry too much about it. I just look ahead and train to get ready,” Castillo told USA TODAY. “When you’re at [AAA], the next step is the big leagues, and the season is very similar to the majors. I try to focus on doing my job wherever I am.”

However, Craig and Victorino have both shown an inability to stay healthy the last couple of seasons, playing in only 156 games combined in 2014.

Castillo, on the other hand, has performed well at every level since signing with the Red Sox, and seemingly has a much higher offensive and defensive ceiling than either Craig or Victorino.

In 11 minor league games between A and AAA in 2014, Castillo hit .293 with five extra-base hits, five runs batted in, seven runs scored, five walks and two stolen bases. He followed that up with an impressive major league debut, hitting .333/.400/.528 with two home runs, six RBI and three steals in 10 games with the big league club.

Although it seems like the easiest choice would be to let Castillo begin the season in AAA, he has made a strong case as to why he should start the 2015 season in Fenway Park as the starting right fielder. With Boston facing many questions regarding their pitching rotation and bullpen, the Red Sox should look to the slugging Castillo if they want to put their best possible lineup on the field.