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.

Rusney Castillo Contributes Big in Sox 3-2 Extra Innings Victory

rusney castillo

After replacing Shane Victorino in right field to start the seventh inning in Sunday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park, Rusney Castillo furthered his argument as to why he should be a starting outfielder come Opening Day.

With one out in the top of the 10th inning, he made a brilliant diving catch in foul territory, then came up firing to catch the runner trying to score and end the frame.Rusney Castillo

“It turned out to be a good play,” Castillo stated in an interview with Ian Browne of MLB.com. “I’m always kind of anticipating that kind of thing to happen. When you have a man on third in a big situation, you hope you can make a play like that and execute it. Fortunately it went our way.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell seemed equally impressed by Castillo’s skill in right field.

“I don’t know that you can make a play better than the one he made — diving play in foul territory, he gets up, sets his feet, and then he throws a 150-foot strike,” Farrell told Browne. “A dynamic player, when you consider the skill set that he has. If there was any question on whether he could play right field, he’s certainly answering those for us in camp here.”

With JetBlue Park sharing the same right-field dimensions as Fenway, the 27-year old Cuba defector is showing he is having no problem transitioning from center field, where he has spent most of his playing time since coming to America, to a right field known for being difficult to defend.

Castillo then lead off the bottom of the 10th inning with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball, then tagged up and went to third on a fly ball from Allen Craig. Shortstop Deven Marrero drilled a two-out walk-off single off the Green Monster, driving in Castillo for the winning run.

Red Sox Spring Training Notes

RED SOX SPRING TRAINING

With Opening Day less than a month away and the home opener a couple of weeks after that, the Boston Red Sox are gearing up for the regular season with Spring Training. So far, the team has only played a handful of games, so few conclusions can be drawn from the sample size. Despite such a small sample size, here are a few notes from Grapefruit League action so far this year.
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Second base prospect Sean Coyle has made a few appearances at third base for the Red Sox this Spring. Previously, Coyle experimented with the position with the Portland Sea red soxDogs last year while top Mookie Betts held down Coyle’s natural position.

Last year, Coyle struggled at the position, booting six balls in 18 games— but it is clear that the team wants to add to his versatility so that they can get his bat in their lineup sometime down the road. That same year, he hit .295 with a .371 on-base percentage and 40 extra base hits (including 16 home runs) in 97 games for the Red Sox AA affiliate.
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Manager John Farrell stated that he has been impressed by right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes from what he has seen during Red Sox spring training. Topping out at 97 MPH in relief, he could be a dark horse candidate for a relief spot this season. So far he has made just one appearance this year and he tossed a pair of scoreless frames while punching out three.

When the Red Sox scrimmaged the Northeastern Huskies last Tuesday, it was Huskies pitcher Aaron Civale that shined the brightest of any player at JetBlue Park. The reliever threw two scoreless frames, facing quite possibly the toughest part of the Red Sox lineup. Striking out David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts, he had a game he will not forget anytime soon.
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Desperate for a spot on the Red Sox, switch-hitting outfielder Daniel Nava is only hitting from the left side of the plate now and is taking extra reps at first base which he has only played occasionally these past two seasons. He will do whatever it takes to keep his spot on this Red Sox team and looks to make the team over former Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig.