Daniel Nava Begins Rehab Assignment with PawSox

The PawSox got yet another player added to their roster for a rehab assignment this week as Daniel Nava was sent to Pawtucket to play starting on Thursday night. Nava was really lost in the shuffle with the Red Sox roster early on in the year and only collected 73 plate appearances, and has been on the disabled list since May 26 with a thumb bruise.

Nava had a great year in 2013 platooning in left field with Jonny Gomes but struggled last Daniel Navaseason even being optioned to Pawtucket in early May. Nava eventually made his way back to the major league roster but became more of a bench player. The versatility Nava serves is something that does not go unnoticed by Red Sox brass as he plays left and right field well and mixes in first base. Playing the left field wall as many have realized this year with Hanley Ramirez out there is not something that can be taken for granted.

The roster crunch will continue as Shane Victorino just finished up a rehab stint and is expected to be activated this weekend. Ryan Haniagan was activated in time for Thursday night’s blowout against the Blue Jays likely meaning a catcher will lose their roster spot. Which makes me you think, will Nava even have a roster spot when his rehab stint is over?

The chances are likely no but an injury could always occur and have Nava taken advantage of an unfortunate circumstance for someone else. Hanley Ramirez does not look like he will be going on the disabled list soon after a week off with a bruised wrist from a line drive. Shane Victorino hasn’t been healthy for much of his time with the Red Sox, so he might not be on the roster for long. Alejandro De Aza is someone who needs to stay on the Red Sox team as he looks to have provided some sort of spark for the team even if he is just a fourth outfielder on a good team he is a veteran.

Much has been made of Mike Napoli’s struggles this year and John Farrell has said they will stick with him as he has been dropped to as low as 8th in the lineup on some occasions. Nava could take advantage of some playing time if he can get it with Napoli continuing to hit under .200 and striking out a prolific rate as he continues to think the umpires are out to get him with the strike zone.

Daniel Nava began a rehab assignment with the PawSox on Thursday night, but a spot on the Red Sox roster when he is ready to be activated might be his for the taking.

Give Jackie Bradley Jr. a Chance

I’ve changed my tune on Jackie Bradley Jr. in the past few weeks.  Last season, and even into the start of this year, I was not particularly high on him because he was like me when I played baseball: Good in the field, but terrible at the plate. At the start of this year, I would have been happy with Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo as the starters in the outfield, with guys like Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava, as well as Brock Holt, filling in as needed.

But that was before Hanley Ramirez proved to be terrible defensively and Rusney Castillo Jackie Bradley Jr.started down the most expensive minor leaguer path. Shane Victorino’s injury problems are no surprise – it was the same story last year, but it looks like he may be back soon.

My change of heart on Jackie Bradley Jr. mainly started with the first 2 guys, though – Ramirez and Castillo. Both guys are massively underperforming, given what they are getting paid. Ramirez can’t play defense to save his life, and Castillo can’t seem to adjust to Boston at all. As I said earlier, he could be on track to be the most expensive minor league player in history.

Right now, I say give him a fair chance. The only other time he was up, he didn’t get a hit, but he only had 11 at bats and 3 of those at bats came against Felix Hernandez. It’s hard for a lot of guys to get hits off of Hernandez, so it’s hard to fault him there. I would say give him a fair chance this time around, because he can only be an improvement for the Red Sox at the moment. It would be pretty hard for the Red Sox to get any worse than they have been, and at the minimum, his glove will help. But I think it will end up being more than that. He has been looking more comfortable at the plate already, so I say see where it goes.

Because when you’re all the way down, the team can only go up, right?

Looking at the Red Sox Draft Strategy

The Red Sox hold the 7th pick in tonight’s MLB draft, which marks the second time in 3 years the Red Sox will pick at that spot. In 2013, the Red Sox selected pitcher Trey Ball, a 6’6″ lefty from Indiana, who has had his struggled in his minor league career so far (4.67 ERA in 67 starts since being drafted). He’s only 20 years old, so he’s still got time to turn things around.

But, if recent history is any guide, 7 could still be a lucky number. Here are a few of the Red Soxnames to be taken 7th in recent years: Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitski and Matt Harvey. So, where should the Red Sox focus be in the draft tonight? On picking the best player available. Why? The Red Sox have so many holes right now, it’s hard to pinpoint one area of need at the moment. Every facet of the game has struggled this year at different points, so it’s hard to say they should focus on offense or pitching over the other.

2 names being thrown around are 2 former Red Sox picks from the 2012 draft, shortstop Alex Bregman and pitcher Carson Fulmer. Both of these guys are projected top 10 picks this year, and both could be on the board for the Red Sox. Bregman is batting .312 with a .406 on base percentage and .534 slugging percentage at Louisiana State University, per Masslive.com. He also has 22 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, and 37 steals in 47 tries this season. Once he gets to the Major League level, he could be a big impact player. So could Fulmer, though – he has a 13-2 record with a 1.82 ERA, 152 strikeouts and only 46 walks in 114.0 innings per MassLive.

Granted, neither  would make an immediate impact at the Major League level, but I would be happy with the Red Sox picking either guy. The Red Sox could pick an outfielder (Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benitendi could be available), which is the one area the Red Sox have some depth, at least when everyone is healthy. That has been a problem so far, with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava both injured right now. Who knows what the Red Sox do, with so many areas to address, but it seems pretty hard for them to go wrong on paper. The draft kicks off tonight at 7 pm.

Mike Napoli Awakes From His Slumber While Hanley Naps

When Hanley Ramirez went on his April tear, Red Sox Nation optimists everywhere thought the next five months would be just like the 10HR, 22RBI performance he debuted with. Little did anyone expect that as we near the end of May, we’d still be waiting for his first home run of the month, and it took 20 games for him to collect his first RBI.

Fortunately for the sub-.500 Red Sox, Mike Napoli has warmed up from his April Mike Napolihibernation and is having a month of May close to what Ramirez did in April. So far, the $16,000,000-a-year first baseman has hit 7HR and 17RBI, after hitting just 1HR and driving in 4RBI in May. He has seen his batting average climb from an anemic .162 in April to .257 this month.

Although Napoli is still halting a paltry .211, he is pacing to hit 24 home runs, which would be his most since donning a Red Sox uniform in 2013. Ramirez, meanwhile, batted .293 in April, but has cooled off to .230 this month (which is a world away from his National League leading .342 of six years ago in Miami.)

The Red Sox need Napoli to stay hot. We haven’t even addressed David Ortiz and his woes yet. Big Papi is off to his worst start in six years. He has 6HR so far, and isn’t even hitting his weight, batting .221. Maybe if Napoli cools off in June, Big Papi will cowboy up and put the team on his back for a month.

Finally, the right field position is clearly the Red Sox Achilles Heel. The position as a whole is only hitting .199. Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig are hitting .255 and .159 and .135 respectively. So far, it doesn’t appear Rusney Castillo will be confused with Dwight Evans. The team needs more than 2HR and 12 RBI from that position.

I guess the point of all this is means that we can’t blame the pitching, at least not for all of the teams woes.

Red Sox Bid Adieu to April

Red Sox

With April in the books,  what is different between this years’ version of the Red Sox and the 2014 team? At first blush, one might think, ‘Well, clearly the pitching is a little better than last year and the hitting is much better.’ Not so fast, Rem Dog disciples.

Last years’ pitching staff was actually BETTER through one month than the current staff.Red Sox Through one month, the ERA in 2015 is a league worst 5.04.  Last year at this time it was 3.95, right in the middle of the pack. As far as the number of earned runs that have been given up, the Sox are atop all of Major League Baseball in that category with 113 allowed. Not exactly the type of stat you want to brag about. Last year, they actually played four more games in April and gave up 9 fewer earned runs.

At the plate, most folks thought with the addition of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval that balls would be flying over the Green Monster at epic proportions, and even fantasized that the Mass Pike would have to be closed down during games for driver safety.  While Ramirez just tied David Ortiz’ record for most home runs in April, with 10, the team batting average is well, just average. At .245 it is good enough for 6th overall in the league, which at least is better that the .245 of a year ago that was 11th best.

Even with new sluggers added this year, some numbers are still very close when looked at year to year.  Last years’ slugging percentage was .384, this year it is at .379.  A year ago the OPS was .333, this year it is at .332, and this year’s OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) is .711 while a year ago it was .717.

What does all this mean?  WHO KNOWS?! A year ago the Red Sox were a sub-.500 team, 2.5 games out of first place behind the New York Yankees.  Now, they are 12-10 and just one game behind the Yankees, who come to town this weekend.

It’s obvious that pitching is the weak link, and that the roster is overcrowded with some guys who can still hit (Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli) and might be able to help a team, and with others who may have enormous upside such as Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr.  Let’s also bear in mind that Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada represent an enormous investment and they’ll be at Fenway Park before too long. It’s time for Ben Cherington to play ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and beef up the pitching.

Daniel Nava Proving His Worth for the Red Sox

Daniel Nava

After much was made about which of Boston’s plethora of outfielders would make the Opening Day roster during Spring Training, Daniel Nava has wasted little time showing how much value he has for the Red Sox despite playing in a bench role.

The 32-year old Redwood City, CA native played a key role in the Red SDaniel Navaox victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night, going 2 for 3 with two runs batted in. Nava laced a 98-MPH Nathan Eovaldi fastball into right field for a single in the top of the fourth, then lined a change-up that ricocheted off Mark Teixeira’s glove, allowing Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli to score in the top of the sixth.

The 19-inning marathon contest lasted six hours and 49 minutes, and included a 16-minute delay to fix malfunctioning light towers near the foul poles caused by a power surge. The game was the longest in terms of time in Red Sox history, despite playing a 20-inning contest against the Yankees in August of 1967.

Nava continued his success against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, not even 12 hours after the conclusion of Friday night’s contest, again going 2 for 3 with two runs batted in, a walk and a run scored.

With two outs and Mike Napoli on third base in the top of the second, Nava hit a ball into left field that was badly misplayed by Yankee’s outfielder Brett Gardner, which allowed Napoli to score and Nava to cruise into second base with a double. He added another RBI single in the top of the fourth, lining an Adam Warren fastball to center field scoring Pablo Sandoval.

In his career against the Yankees, Nava is hitting .308/.410/.523 with a .933 OPS and eight extra base hits, 15 runs batted in and 10 walks in 65 at-bats. Nava has home runs against three of the Yankee’s starting pitchers—C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Saturday’s starter, Adam Warren.