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.

What About Bryce Brentz?


Going 9-for-25 in Spring Training and 8-for-26 in the big leagues last year as a September call-up, Bryce Brentz showed plenty of promise while he was up with the Boston Red Sox in 2014, but will be given little opportunity this season.
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Slated to start off 2015 in AAA Pawtucket, Brentz likely will not be given much of a shot to crack a spot on the Red Sox Opening Day Roster because the outfield is so crowded as it is. As of now, the team already needs to trade an outfielder before Opening Day (most likely Allen Craig) and send their starting center fielder for the bulk of last season down tobryce brentz the Minors (Jackie Bradley Jr.).

Away from all of the competition, Brentz will be able to prove why he deserves to play in the big leagues— if he is able to stay healthy this season. These past two years, he has been limited to just 145 Minor League games, including rehab, but he has shown off excellent power.
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Power is the reason why the Red Sox drafted Brentz in the first place and, given that he has smacked 29 home runs in his last 145 MiLB contests, his power is still a serious threat and could help the Red Sox out down the road this season.

Against lefties is where Bryce Brentz thrives. The former high school football linebacker dominates lefties and blasted eight home runs in 73 at-bats against southpaws for the Paw Sox last season. Historically speaking, he has always hit significantly better off of lefties, making him a viable option as a platoon player. After all, he did collect four hits in seven at-bats off of lefties in the big leagues last season.
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If Brentz is able to show off his power and stay healthy in a full season not only should he be able to blast 30 home runs for the Paw Sox next season, but he should find himself in consideration for a job as a platoon player. Since Boston is filled with talented outfielders, if he is not given a shot in Boston, there would be other teams interested in his services.

Had the Red Sox not signed Hanley Ramirez, his chances of cracking the roster would be better since Daniel Nava, who would have been the starting outfielder, struggles greatly against southpaws— he has hit just .159 off them last year.

Don’t Forget About Quintin Berry

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As Spring Training approaches, the Boston Red Sox already appear to have a major problem—way too many outfielders and a suspect, at best, starting rotation. Questions lurk around the five guys who will be starting on a regular basis in Boston. Where is the ace? How long before they tank? Why did they pay Justin Masterson $9.5 million? What about the outfield?
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The Red Sox have a plethora of outfielders—too many in fact. It is clear that one outfielder in particular (likely Allen Craig) will have to be dealt as the team condenses down to 25 men in April for Opening Day, but it is unclear what Boston will receive in return as they seem to have their heart set on going into the year with a hand-picked rotation.

Even when an outfielder is dealt, the team will still have plenty of depth at the position. Not only will they have three guys on the bench who can play all three positions (including Brock Holt), but they will also have talent down in Pawtucket.
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quintin berryThe three starting outfielders projected for the Paw Sox this season are Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz and Quintin Berry. While Bradley is an excellent defender, Brentz is a powerful hitter who clobbers lefties and Berry is a serious stolen base threat; the team’s three viable call-up options and Boston will have choices depending on the scenario.

Back in 2013, Berry, who is a perfect 25-for-25 in MLB stolen base attempts from 2012-2014, helped the Boston Red Sox win a World Series as a pinch runner on the post-season roster. Despite only being used once the rosters expanded, he found his way onto the playoff roster as the team no longer needed to carry five starting pitchers.

Currently, Berry is not on the 40-man roster and has no options remaining. If the team does in fact turn to his services—they will need to do so wisely. If they need to call him up and send him back down, they are out of luck and he will be exposed to the waiver wire where someone will surely bite.
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September will roll around eventually and if Boston finds themselves in a similar situation as they were in back in 2013, do not be surprised to see his number called once again—whatever it may be.

What To Do With Allen Craig

allen craigAn All-Star in 2013, acquired in the John Lackey deal, expectations were high for former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Allen Craig. So far, his tenure with Boston has been less than impressive to put it simply. Going 2-for-32 in his last 10 games and 1-for-17 in the month of September, while already spending time on the DL, his time in Boston has been far from impressive.

The Red Sox outfield is crowded as it is, and will only get more crowded as time goes on. Based off of his performance lately, the chances of Boston holding onto Allen Craig for 2015 are bleak. Sure he slashed .315/.373/.457 last year with an .830 OPS, but he has done nothing so far to warrant a spot with the Boston Red Sox in the future.
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Of course, trading Allen Craig sounds like an appealing option — mainly because it is. Craig is an appealing option for many teams given his versatility and past success. Next year, the outfield looks crowded with Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts all in line for starting jobs. As Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be out of luck, there is no reason to keep Craig when a former All-Star, on-base machine, and the best defensive center fielder in the league cannot even get a starting job themselves.

The return on Craig may not be as high as it has ever been, but Boston would open a spot on the 40-man roster, save millions of dollars in cap room, and potentially receive some talented prospects in return. If Boston can get Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar for Jake Peavy, it seems certain they can make out like bandits in an Allen Craig deal as well.
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At this point it does not really matter though because even without Craig, they have a number of outfielders who can play the game.