Red Sox First Half Report Card By Position: Outfield

Red Sox First Half

Boy, oh boy, was the outfield a mess in the Red Sox first half! With the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason, Jackie Bradley Jr. was expected to be the everyday center fielder, and the signing of Grady Sizemore would create some competition. Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Carp would all see some time in left and Shane Victorino would return to his spot in right. What the Red Sox didn’t know was that their outfield would be one of the worst offensive trios in team history.

Jackie Bradley Jr. knew he had some big shoes to fill after Ellsbury’s departure, and maybe they were a little too big for Bradley to handle. His defense has been spectacular and could potentially garner him some attention for the gold glove award, but his bat has hurt the club. In recent weeks, he has changed his stance and taken a new approach at the plate, resulting in a .375 average in the month of July. However, his .208 average prior to that would have probably sent him down to the minors if he wasn’t so good in the field. Will he ever be a .300 hitter? It’s possible, but I don’t plan on seeing it anytime soon. If he could hit around a .300 clip for the rest of the year though, that would make a lot of people forget his rough first half.

Daniel Nava was getting some All-Star votes last season, and this year he was taking bus rides in Pawtucket. Less than a month into the season, Nava’s .149 average, about half of his .303 average from last year, had him sent down for a one month stint. Since returning, he has done quite well. In the month of June he hit .313 and so far in July, he’s hit .373. It would be nice if he could find some pop (only eight extra base hits all year) and start driving in runners (10 RBI’s), but that is bound to happen if he continues to hit.

Shane Victorino was banged up last year, but was able to play through most of it and be a very important part of the team. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field this year though, adding to the outfield madness. His durability needs to be questioned, because a hamstring injury shouldn’t shelf a guy for so long, but perhaps making his way back to the club slowly will give him the best chance of staying healthy. When he has played, he hasn’t been that great either. Just a .627 OPS in the 21 games played so far is well below his .802 total last year. The Sox will need him hitting well when he returns because all this team needs right now is another strong defensive player who can’t hit.

Jonny Gomes has essentially been the same player that he was a year ago. He became a fan favorite last year with his clutch hits and playoff antics, but he may not be around much longer. With Victorino coming back soon, there isn’t much need for a player like Gomes and the Kansas City Royals have expressed interest in acquiring him. I wouldn’t like seeing him go, but in a business like baseball, a .234 hitting outfielder is very expendable.

Grady Sizemore was given a shot when Ben Cherington decided to make one of the most unexpected signings of the offseason. The oft-injured Sizemore had been out of the game for two years, so you couldn’t really expect much from him. I expected his downfall to come from injuries, but it turns out he just didn’t have the skills he had seven years ago. Shocking, right? The Phillies recently picked him up and have given him yet another chance to get back into the game, so I hope he is able to keep his job there.

Brock Holt has obviously been great wherever John Farrell sticks him, and recently that has been in the outfield. Mostly playing in right, Holt has been able to hit the lights out while still playing decent defense. Considering he had never played an inning of professional baseball in the outfield, Holt has really passed every test he’s been given with flying colors. It should be interesting to see where he plays once Victorino returns, but I am sure Farrell will find a spot somewhere.

Jackie Bradley Jr- Grade: C

Daniel Nava- Grade: C-

Shane Victorino- Grade: D-

Jonny Gomes- Grade: C-

Grady Sizemore- Grade: F

Brock Holt- Grade: A

Can Brock Holt Really Play Center Field?

Brock HoltOn Tuesday, Grady Sizemore packed his bags and was designated for assignment by the Red Sox. There’s a new outfielder around and his name is Brock Holt. While Holt wasn’t the only reason Sizemore was cut, his excellent hitting and versatility have allowed the Sox to start switching things up.

The team is sporting one of the worst, if not the worst, offensive outfield in their history. Sizemore’s .216 average and .612 OPS were not going to cut it in Boston. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s numbers are even worse, but he’s a young player with potential and has been providing excellent defense. Last night, we saw Bradley sit and Mr. Everything, Brock Holt, play his first professional game in center field. Does he have the ability to play there though? Well, in the third inning, he did his best to prove nay-sayers wrong by making this amazing catch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FErW4ys5s3I

Holt also scored both of Boston’s runs in the 2-1 victory and has been hitting at a very steady pace, with his average going from .337 to .338 since the beginning of June.

While it’s tough to see Sizemore lose his job after giving a strong effort to come back, it is good to see the Red Sox starting to shake things up. With Shane Victorino on his way back, perhaps Daniel Nava will be on his way back down to Pawtucket, despite raising his average up to around .200 since being called up. Is it possible that we could see a Gomes-Holt-Victorino outfield? People weren’t expecting to see Sizemore in center field, but I am sure they are equally surprised when Holt was put there.

Even Will Middlebrooks might give the outfield a shot when he returns, according to John Farrell. The third base to outfield position change isn’t seen very often, but it could happen twice on this year’s Red Sox team. Hell, I wouldn’t mind if they put Big Papi out there at this point. Seriously though, expect to see some more wacky lineups for the next month or so as the Red Sox continue to try and figure out this enigmatic team.

Why The Grady Sizemore Experiment Should End

Grady Sizemore

Well it was a nice thought, Grady Sizemore a Major League Baseball player once again. When the Boston Red Sox saw he was making a comeback, they pounced on the low-risk, high-reward scenario by signing him to a one year deal worth $750k and adding incentives so he could potentially earn up to $6 million total.
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So far this year, with the exception of Spring Training and the first few regular season games, Sizemore has been tough to watch. On the year Sizemore is hitting .216 with a .288 OBP, a pair of homeruns and five stolen bases. Since April 14th, Sizemore is hitting just .182 making it clear why Boston is not doing well this season. If Boston wants to compete this year, they will have a hard time doing so if Grady Sizemore is a regular in their outfield.

Even though the Red Sox are low on outfield depth, cutting Grady Sizemore is the best move the team could make. With Will Middlebrooks, Shane Victorino, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz all rehabbing in Pawtucket, Boston will need to make a slew of  moves to put all of these men back on the roster. The way Daniel Nava is hitting, Jackie Bradley Jr is playing defense, Jonny Gomes crushes lefties, and Brock Holt is dominating every aspect of the game, Grady Sizemore is without a doubt the weak link in the Red Sox outfield. It would be in the Red Sox best interest to give Sizemore the boot, designating him for assignment, to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Victorino and a spot on the 40-man roster for a top prospect or other potential call up.
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Overall, the Grady Sizemore days in Boston are coming to a close. It was a nice thought and valid experiment by the front office, but it is clear that the experiment ultimately failed. There is a chance that he could accept Minor League assignment, play for the Pawtucket Red Sox and be a nice depth guy for the team, but with the signing of Andres Torres, it appears as though Torres is now the Red Sox Minor League depth guy in the outfield.

Red Sox sign Andres Torres

Andres Torres

Earlier today, the Red Sox signed veteran outfielder Andres Torres to a minor league deal. The 36 year old has been in baseball since 2002, but never really landed a starting job until his breakout season in 2010 with the Giants. Torres posted a 5.3 WAR by putting up 16 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 26 stolen bases. However, since then, he hasn’t came close to replicating those numbers.

Torres isn’t exactly the outfield acquisition Red Sox fans were hoping to see and doesn’t really add anything that the Sox outfield doesn’t already have. Torres is a switch-hitter with aging speed that has spent much of his career in the minor leagues. Torres has logged over a thousand games in the minors and only 650 in the majors. Will he be seeing any major league action with the Red Sox?

If Torres can show anything in the minors, it it possible that Grady Sizemore’s days with the team would be over. Sizemore hasn’t had any injury problems, but is playing more like he was in 2010 and 2011 than he was in 2006. His .618 OPS is very low for an everyday player, so it  may just be a matter of time before he is let go. With Brock Holt in the outfield now, adding another platoon type player like Torres doesn’t make much sense.

Will Sox fans even realize Torres was a part of the organization? Maybe not. Not many people remember that the Sox once signed Juan Gonzalez to a minor league contract either. At the very least, it appears Red Sox management is somewhat acknowledging that their outfield is in some trouble

What will the Red Sox lineup be in September?

 

Red Sox

Manager John Farrell continues to throw lineups together that catch players and fans off guard at times. The real question is, when, if ever, will the Red Sox have a relatively stable lineup?

For the time being, there probably won’t be one. Will Middlebrooks, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli have all hit the DL in the past couple of weeks, which partially accounts for the Red Sox poor run production over their recent skid. It also means that the healthy players can’t get too comfortable in the lineup.

Dustin Pedroia, Grady Sizemore, and rookie Xander Bogaerts have all bounced around the lineup and have all gone through slumps at various points of the year. Before Victorino went on the DL, some were hoping the Sizemore experiment would be abandoned, but the rejuvenated outfielder continues to show signs of his old self.

Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to have a tough time at the plate, but had a key hit in last night’s win over the Braves. Obviously, Bradley projects to be the team’s future center fielder, so the team may decide to stick with him through the good and bad.

The addition of Stephen Drew obviously puts Bogaerts and Middlebrooks in a tough place. Bogaerts will most likely have to move over to third base, while Middlebrooks may be out of a job with this team. Middlebrooks does, however, hit left-handed pitching much better than Stephen Drew and could provide value in those situations or off the bench.

Basically, the Red Sox have a few too many players on their roster if everyone is healthy. I am guessing at least one of these position players will be either dealt or let go by the trade deadline. If Sizemore can’t raise his average to around the .250 mark, he might be gone. If Mike Carp can’t add the pop that he did last season, he could be trade bait. Same goes for Middlebrooks.

With all this being taken into account, here is my guess for the Sox lineup against righties down the stretch.

1. Xander Bogaerts- 3B

2. Shane Victorino- RF

3. Dustin Pedroia- 2B

4. David Ortiz- DH

5. Mike Napoli- 1B

6.Jonny Gomes- LF

7. A.J. Pierzynski- C

8. Stephen Drew- SS

9. Jackie Bradley Jr.- CF

Maybe the Red Sox will acquire a bat at the deadline to help their struggling offense. If not, hopefully this lineup can produce similar results as last year.

Time For Sox to Bench Grady Sizemore

Grady Sizemore

Boston Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore was the media darling during this year’s spring training in Fort Myers, but his success hasn’t translated to the regular season and it’s time for the former three-time All-Star to take a seat on the bench. 

A huge reason for the inconsistency of the Red Sox offense has been the lack of production at the top of the lineup. Sizemore, who earlier last month looked like the former All-Star he once was, has struggled in the field and at the plate recently. 

Over the last 10 games, Sizemore is batting just .081 with three RBIs and 11 strikeouts. If the former gold glove winner’s defense was good, it would be easier for the Red Sox to keep him in the lineup. The problem is, Sizemore’s defense has been just as bad as his hitting.  

Since he is no longer able to track the ball off the bat in centerfield like he could during his days in Cleveland, Sizemore has been asked to play the corner outfield positions. This is the first time in his career that he has played in the corner of the field and he has struggled to adapt in left or right field.

It could be rust, but it appears that the grind of the regular season is catching up to Sizemore. Maybe he could be more productive in less starts and less at-bats. Whatever the case is, it is apparent to everyone that Sizemore isn’t the player the Red Sox thought he was during spring training. 

While we are only a month into the baseball season, the Red Sox are struggling in all phases right now. With Jacoby Ellsbury leading off last season, the Red Sox led the majors in runs scored. This season, the Red Sox currently rank 14th in runs scored.

The Red Sox also miss Ellsbury and shortstop Stephen Drew defensively. Those two helped the team become the fifth best defensive team in the American League. With Sizemore playing more in the field, the Sox are currently 20th in the majors in defense.

I’m not saying benching Sizemore would solve all of the Red Sox issues, but it would be a start. With the team playing the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, and the Texas Rangers in a 10 day span, Boston can’t afford to fall back any farther in the American League East.