History Made At McCoy Stadium as Castillo Demoted

On April 13th 2016, the baseball world was shaken to its core when history was made at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Records were broken, ticket sales skyrocketed and soon the Boston media will be swarming the Triple-A affiliate. Why? Well, with Rusney Castillo demoted to Triple-A, McCoy Stadium is nowCastilo demoted to pawtucket home to the highest payroll of all minor league baseball teams with over 70 million dollars on the books.

Rusney Castillo has more than 48 million dollars left on his seven-year, 72.5 million dollar deal that he signed in 2014. Old friend Allen Craig, who was once a promising slugger with the St. Louis Cardinals, has 21 million dollars (and a team-friendly 13 million dollar option in 2018) attached to his name. And if you want to be even more precise, once Pablo Sandoval joins the team on a rehab assignment they will have easily amassed the 100 million dollar threshold with the 72.4 million dollars remaining on the beefy third baseman.

Rusney Castillo Demoted to Pawtucket: History Made But at What Cost?

All kidding aside this is quite frankly embarrassing to a franchise that has already faced it’s share of criticism from media and fans alike since spring training. How an organization can have players with big major league contracts playing in Triple-A is beyond me, but it boasts an even bigger question—who’s to blame? Easy answer: ownership.

Spending a total of 275.5 million dollars on Castillo, Sandoval and Ramirez was not just a mistake, but a costly one. This team needed pitching in 2015, and they desperately  need pitching in 2016. Currently this pitching staff,including the bullpen, has a combined ERA of 5.40. Yes it’s still early enough that things can, and should turn around, but in the interim this organization is becoming the laughing-stock of the baseball world.

But hey, if you’re looking for family friendly baseball outings with major league talent, head on down to McCoy Stadium. Castillo and Craig will be there welcoming you with open arms. And maybe you’ll even get to see a Panda in action in weeks to come. Now wouldn’t that be a treat?

YOUNG PAWSOX FANS TO BROADCAST ON SUNDAYS AT McCOY

The Pawtucket Red Sox are inviting young fans, 9-18 years old, to be live on the air for an inning during Sunday PawSox home games on 920 WHJJ and the PawSox Radio Network, along with webcasts on MiLB.com.

“The PawSox Junior Announcers” will be youngsters from fourth grade through high PawSox fansschool, who will join professional announcers Josh Maurer and Will Flemming in the booth in the top of the fourth and lead the play by play in the bottom of the fourth.

“The dream of being a baseball play-by-play announcer is so vivid for so many children—and adults,” said PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg.  “For one inning on a Sunday afternoon, we can make that dream come true.  We look forward to having a young ‘Fan in the Fourth’ on Sundays.”

Applicants can send essays and homemade audition clips to the club via pawsox.com.  The children who are selected will be the PawSox’ guests at the game.

“Sundays are Family FunDays” also include fans running the bases after day games.

Each day of the week in 2016 has a theme, with full details at pawsox.com:

  1. My Hero Mondays honor a member of the community.
  2. TV Tuesdays salute a local television personality as well as baseball’s role on TV.
  3. Women & Baseball Wednesdays feature the accomplishments of women on the field and in the front office.
  4. Throwback Thursdays feature the team wearing replicas of the Pawtucket Slaters jerseys of the 1940s, as well as baseball cards of historic or nostalgic figures.
  5. Free [blank] Fridays offer an element of the experience at no charge, such as on-field photos with players or free concession items.
  6. SuperSox Saturdays feature many of the club’s premium giveaway items, such as Bobbleheads, as well as many of the club’s popular Fireworks Night presentations.
  7. Sundays are Family FunDays, when fans run the bases and kids play a host of roles at the game, including serving as public address announcer to introduce a player leading off an inning.

 

Blue Jays Starter Marcus Stroman Rehabs at McCoy Stadium

As the Red Sox focus on letting their young players get playing time down the stretch, the American League East leading Blue Jays are looking forward to getting back one of their key players for the stretch run. Starting Pitcher Marcus Stroman made a rehab appearance with the Buffalo Bisons on Monday at McCoy Stadium and said he is ready to return.

Stroman, 24, who is at the end of a crazy recovery after tearing his knee in Spring Marcus StromanTraining just fielding his position, seems to be done talking about his knee and ready to start for the Blue Jays. Stroman won 11 games for the Blue Jays last season in 20 starts and could take the rotation spot of Drew Hutchison, who has double digit wins but a very high ERA. Hutchison has already been demoted this season and would likely move to the bullpen if the Blue Jays decide Stroman is ready to return to the rotation.

If Stroman were to return to the rotation on regular rest, his first start of the season would come this Saturday against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

In 3 innings of work Stroman had a line of 8 H, 4 ER, 4 BB and 5 K. Obviously not the line you look to get in 3 innings of work against a PawSox lineup that has been ripped apart due the Red Sox struggles and injuries but Stroman seemed upbeat and even remarked that Boston affiliates have hit him well before.

Stroman tore his knee on March 10th during fielding drills in Spring Training and began a long road to recovery. Knee injuries, most expect to take a full year but some have come back sooner, Adrian Peterson comes to mind of the Minnesota Vikings. Stroman even went back to class at Duke University to finish his degree while rehabbing.

The prolific Toronto offense is what comes to mind when most think of the Blue Jays but the pitching since the acquisition of David Price is what has been of note for the Jays. With all the moves the Blue Jays made this season it looks like they are going for it and Marcus Stroman will soon be back sooner than many thought.

Pat Light Spotless Early On For PawSox

Last week when Pat Light got the call-up the the PawSox from Portland, many expected, myself included him to take over the closer role for the PawSox. After all Light has been seen this season hitting 100 mph on his fast ball on the occasion and that is something that will miss bats in the late innings, especially in the minor leagues.

So far in two out of his three appearances with the PawSox he has collected saves, both Pat Lightcoming against Toledo during last weekends home stand at McCoy Stadium. His lone other appearance, coming Tuesday night in Charlotte wasn’t something to shy away from either as it only took him 8 pitches to get through the inning including a strike out.

Matt Barnes was recently optioned to the PawSox, after his free fall in last weekends series against the Blue Jays, and he can also bring the heat. Barnes, much like Light was a starter until this season and both could play huge dividends for future Red Sox teams out of the bullpen. Barnes and Light will likely split the closer duties for the PawSox with Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross now up with Boston.

There is no question about the talent of Light, as he was drafted in the first round, three years ago. It just took a little while for the Sox to find a good position for him. Trey Ball, 2013 first round pick is going through the same trouble. The goal for any pitcher starter or reliever is to miss bats and get outs. In his three appearances with the PawSox he has yet to allow a base runner in three innings of work while collecting 4 strikeouts.

Time will tell how long Pat Light can keep this streak going, but for a pitcher who had not appeared in a game above AA before this season, Light looks to be on the fast track to the big leagues.

Justin Masterson Sharp in Latest Rehab Start

As the Red Sox rotation begins to perform they could be faced with a decision soon, on sending a starter to the bullpen. Justin Masterson took the mound for the PawSox on Wednesday afternoon in his latest rehab outing. It was his second rehab start with the PawSox and third overall, after starting for Portland last Friday.

Masterson was sharp on Wednesday while keeping the ball down, something he struggledJustin Masterson with early on in the year up in Boston. Masterson, was among the problem in April and early May when the rotation could not keep the ball down, or get out of six innings. Now that the rotation is starting to look consistent, he may be moved to the bullpen, because Eduardo Rodriguez is not going anywhere. Joe Kelly could be moved to the bullpen if he doesn’t find consistency, and he does miss bats so the bullpen might not be a bad idea.

Masterson made the decision much harder on sending him to the bullpen Wednesday with a stellar performance at McCoy Stadium. Masterson went 6 innings with a line of 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 6 K. Among his 6 strikeouts, Masterson struck out a stretch of four out of five Charlotte Knights hitters, who looked over matched. Obviously Masterson has lost velocity and probably won’t return to the mid 90s but if he keeps the ball down he will be most successful.

When the Red Sox return home to Fenway on Friday they will be faced with the decision of activating Masterson. He does have 30 days to spend in the minors, so he could make another rehab start, but that might just delay the decision and cause some friction with him and the staff. Masterson is a veteran who can handle being moved to the bullpen, but he did not seem pleased with being placed on the disabled list in the first place.

They were faced with the decision between moving Steven Wright or Joe Kelly to the bullpen this week as they abandon the six man rotation with some off days coming up. Wright was moved to the bullpen, but Kelly might be so lucky this time when it comes to him and Masterson. Something the Red Sox could also do is option Kelly to Pawtucket to work on consistency as he does have an option remaining, however that is unlikely.

Justin Masterson will be activated from the disabled list soon, but his role is something we all are not aware of yet.

Steven Wright Back On Track In Latest Start With PawSox

Steven Wright PawSox

After not pitching in an official game in eight days Steven Wright took the mound Thursday afternoon at McCoy Stadium against the Syracuse Chiefs and had his best outing of the year and was more of what the Red Sox expect out of the knuckleballer.

After being called up on Monday after the Red Sox bullpen was taxed this weekend in Steven WrightBaltimore, Wright never appeared in a game. He was, however, warming up in the bullpen on Monday in the early innings before Joe Kelly calmed down and got through six innings for the Sox. Wright was subsequently sent down to start Thursday afternoons game for the PawSox. Wright rejoined the PawSox rotation giving more rest for starters Matt Barnes and Eduardo Rodriguez who will pitch against Durham this weekend.

Wright was dominant in the early innings striking out three of the first five batters he faced, all looking at the dancing knuckler. On the day Wright finished with seven strikeouts, five looking and allowed no runs, on four hits in seven innings of work earning the win in a 4-0 game. The most encouraging sign in my opinion was Blake Swihart who seemed to struggle catching the knuckle ball in recent outings but Thursday Swihart had one passed ball but recovered nicely for the rest of the game.

Red Sox starters have struggled getting out of jams of late with innings starting with hits ending in runs and a lot of them. Wright battled out of a bases loaded one out jam in the 5th inning, caused by himself by walking two batters, but got a key ground ball to shortstop Deven Marrero, who stepped on second and threw to first for the double play. This encouraging start by Wright could push the Red Sox to make a decision on a starter soon if they continue to struggle. Ben Cherington has said he is not bringing up any starters from the minors at this time, but most would assume Wright is not part of that group Cherington is referring to.

Other highlights on the afternoon were solo home runs for Travis Shaw and Deven Marrero. Marrero continues to get better with the bat and his hitting .281 after the first month of the season. Blake Swihart got on base three times, twice walking and legging out an infield single. Swihart has been on base in seven straight games and is hitting a robust .338 good for ninth in the International League. He will continue to catch everyday for the PawSox but at some point this summer expect him to make his way up Interstate 95 to Fenway Park.