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?

PAWSOX: SPECIAL TICKET PROMO IF TEMPs REACH 70 MARCH 9

If the temperature in Pawtucket, RI reaches 70 degrees tomorrow (Wednesday March 9, 2016), fans will be able to buy box seat tickets to any April game (non-Opening Day) for just $7 through the end of the day Wednesday.

As soon as the temperature hits 70 degrees tomorrow, fans can use the promo code Paw Sox Lunch BoxSUNSHINE on www.pawsox.com to buy box seats to any one of 11 April home games at McCoy Stadium for $7, a nearly 50 percent value off the usual purchase price of $13.

“At this time last year, there was still over a foot of snow on the ground,” said Senior Vice President/General Manager, Dan Rea. “The warm weather is a welcome harbinger of the baseball season, and we hope this meteorological promotion helps get our fans into the spring swing of things.”

Fans can follow the team on twitter and Facebook for live temperature updates from McCoy all day on Wednesday.

The 11 PawSox home games in April (other than Opening Night on April 7 at 7:05 pm) are:

April 8             vs. Buffalo                  6:15 pm                       April 22 vs. Lehigh Valley      6:15 pm

April 9             vs. Buffalo                  1:05 pm                       April 23 vs. Lehigh Valley      1:05 pm

April 10           vs. Buffalo                  1:05 pm                       April 24 vs. Lehigh Valley      1:05 pm

April 11           vs. Scranton/WB         6:15 pm                       April 25 vs. Syracuse              6:15 pm

April 12           vs. Scranton/WB         6:15 pm                       April 26 vs. Syracuse              12:05 pm

April 13           vs. Scranton/WB         12:05 pm

Patience Is Key With Red Sox Young Players

The final month of the Red Sox season is upon us and if the Red Sox go 27-0 down the stretch they would finish with 92 wins, good enough for a Wild Card right? Well no one expects that to happen so for the final month the Red Sox will be looking to two things. How their younger players continue to play and the chase of David Ortiz’s 500th home run.

With the young outfield of Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. continuing to show what they are capable of the Red Sox have to be happy with what theyYoung Players are seeing. Down the stretch all three expect to get time in all three outfield positions to help figure out what is the best alignment for the BBC. Castillo has been playing left field for about a week now and has not had any Hanley Ramirez moments yet and likely will not. Betts has played center field for every appearance so far this season, but has been working in left and right the last few weeks and will likely appear in a game on the corners soon. Bradley Jr.’s defense is something that will keep him in the big leagues, but his hitting of late has kept him in the lineup after an extended stay in Pawtucket early on this season. His arm I believe is something that has him fit for right field in Fenway Park. Shane Victorino who was a center fielder for most of his career, excelled in moving to the spacious right field in Fenway.

The pitching staff is something that has handcuffed the Red Sox all season long. Eduardo Rodriguez has looked like someone who will be at the top of the rotation for the Red Sox rotation next season, of course likely below an ace they expect to acquire this off-season. Henry Owens has looked good at times, kept down his walks that he struggled with in minors this year but has had some stinkers against teams with good offenses. Both are players who started the year in Pawtucket and will be likely skipped a few times down the stretch because of an innings limit the Red Sox are looking to adhere to, but not quite a Mets Matt Harvey situation because obviously the Red Sox are not in playoff contention.

The slumps and forgetfulness of young players is something that is all over the game. Patience is something the Red Sox have not had with young players as of late as they tried to win at all costs and not allow players battle through adjusting to the big leagues. The Royals and Astros are examples of players coming up together through the system and go through the slumps together and learn how to win together with a core.

Veterans are important to every team and the Red Sox have David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia but the next great Red Sox team will likely come together and learn some lessons this September.

Will Rusney Castillo Solve The Sox Offensive Struggles?

With Rusney Castillo on a tear in Pawtucket recently the Red Sox have been forced to consider making changes to their everyday lineup. With the offense not being able to score more than 3 runs in seemingly every game on the past road trip, the pitching carried the team to a 5-5 trip.

Castillo missed two games in Pawtucket, while back in Boston not with the big league club but with the birth of his first child. John Farrell said the expectation is Castillo will be up soon. Rusney CastilloSoon is something the Red Sox offense needs with almost every hitter in a slump. Mike Napoli has provided almost nothing this season, in a year the team expected him to break out after surgery to adjust his jaw and help him sleep. Pablo Sandoval cannot left handed pitching, something the Red Sox were expected to mash against with the addition of Hanley Ramirez.

A trip to the disabled list would not be a bad idea for Ramirez. Since he collided with the left field wall almost three weeks ago, he has not been driving the ball like he was in April, but still leads the team in homers, a testament to the offense not coming along. Ramirez has not driven in a run in May, resting his shoulder could be beneficial to the team and for him in a long haul. I believe he is the most important player when it comes to offense for this team, without him clicking the offense hasn’t been.

The Sox aren’t only leaving runners on base at a high rate, but no one player seems to be making a name for himself in terms of average. The Sox do not have a player hitting over .300 and Xander Bogaerts leads the team in average hitting .271. Obviously pitching gotten better in the majors in past years, but not many offenses don’t feature at least one hitter over .300.

Brock Holt has been forced to play everyday with the injuries to Shane Victorino and Pablo Sandoval. Holt, is a great story, being able to play multiple positions to help the team in a time of need, I just don’t think he is an everyday player. With the addition to Castillo to the roster, Farrell will have to make the decision to send down Jackie Bradley Jr., again or place Ramirez on the disabled list something, which I don’t expect.

Castillo was signed to $72 million contract so he should be playing everyday and not in Pawtucket past this weekend. Obviously he will go through some struggles but the whole offense is struggling and a message needs to be sent.

Farrell does not get fired up too much, but this team right now is too complacent thinking it’ll just solve itself with Mike Napoli hitting sixth everyday as his average continues to swoon under .180. A lineup shakeup would be something I feel would help the players realize if they don’t start hitting they might not be in the lineup everyday.

I’m not saying Rusney Castillo is going to be the next Mike Trout and come up and light the world on fire, but he should at least help the offense looks respectable, and not dormant against left handed pitching.

Koji Uehara Makes His Return to the Sox

Koji Uehara

Coinciding with the home opener, Koji Uehara was activated from the disabled list on Monday, after being limited in Spring Training due to a hamstring injury. His first save opportunity came on Tuesday night against the Nationals and he did not disappoint.

In an 8-7 Sox win Uehara threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, as he was his usual efficient self on the mound while strikinng out two. A very loud foul ball was hit by Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, that went just foul down the left field line, so close to being fair the umpires reviewed it.Koji Uehara Fortunately for the Red Sox the call on the field was upheld and Uehara got Zimmerman to fly out to left field on the next pitch.

Uehara’s return signaled the end to Edward Mujica in the closer spot for the time being. Mujica gave up two solo home runs in his two appearances before Tuesday night. Mujica got the win Tuesday night after going 1 1/3 striking out two. It is still expected that John Farrell will call on Mujica when Uehara needs a day or two of rest, as fatigue could be a factor this season for him, so that is something to keep an eye on.

With Uehara’s return, Tommy Layne was sent down to Pawtucket where he will join Dana Eveland as a lefty in the bullpen. Craig Breslow and Robbie Ross Jr. remain the lefties out of the bullpen for the big league club.

The expectations for Koji Uehara this season are something Red Sox fans seem unsure of. Can he be the lights out closer like he was for the tail end of 2013 and early 2014? Or will he struggle like he did in the second half of last season? Seeing a clean inning from the closer is obviously a good sign, but for the Sox to feel confident in their bullpen, it starts with the closer. With some shaky starts from the rotation the past few days and that 19 inning contest from last week, the bullpen has been used quite often, so a healthy and effective Uehara will only help pitchers like Robbie Ross Jr. and Anthony Varvaro get acclimated to their roles on this club.

Matt Barnes Likely Next Man Up If Starter Goes Down

matt  barnes

This winter the Red Sox made some moves to their pitching staff that signaled they were moving onto the next wave of pitching prospects. Besides not being able to retain Jon Lester, gone are Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, and Anthony Ranaudo. De La Rosa and Webster were sent to Arizona in the Wade Milley trade, while Ranaudo was sent to Texas for Robbie Ross.

Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Eduardo Rodriguez are the next wave of pitching Matt Barnesprospects the Red Sox have, and are all left handed, highly valued in today’s game. We are not going to argue about who has the most potential as the Red Sox hope all three lefties pan out. The one holdover from the Pawtucket Red Sox rotation from last season is Matt Barnes.

Barnes, 6’4 210 pounds out of the University of Connecticut throws hard and has been a starter since the Red Sox drafted him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. There has been talk of Barnes converting to a reliever this season and even cracking the opening day roster out of the ‘pen. However with Alexei Ogando and Robbie Ross Jr. likely ahead of Barnes of the depth chart, he may start the season in AAA Pawtucket and be ready for the call if a starter should go down.

Not many teams have all five starters make 30 starts in a season. The Rangers are already experiencing problems with Yu Darvish likely missing the year because of the Tommy John Surgery. The Blue Jays will be without Marcus Stroman for the season after he torn his MCL during fielding drills. And just yesterday the against the Red Sox, Yankees starter Chris Capuano strained his quad running to cover first base. Rotation depth is something you need in baseball to make it to October.

Barnes made his major league debut last season after the minor league season ended. He appeared in 5 games for the Sox tossing 9 innings, while giving up 4 runs. So far this spring Barnes has appeared in 2 games, striking out 6 in 4 innings of work with only 2 hits allowed. The Sox could have used Barnes as a trade chip like they used Webster, De La Rosa, and Ranaudo, but they kept him– signaling he is still a part of the future.

A lot can happen in the three weeks left of spring training, but don’t be surprised if Matt Barnes does not make the team out of spring training. The value he has as a depth starter is huge and flip flopping him from starter to reliever might have an impact on him, like it did on Brandon Workman last season.