The Search For Xander Bogaerts

After a scorching start to the 2016 season, Xander Bogaerts has hit a rut. Though the humidity has run rampant through Boston lately, Bogaerts has experienced a rather cold summer at the plate.

In May and June, Bogaerts looked like a serious MVP candidate, if not a favorite along with BogaertsDavid Ortiz. Bogaerts hit .395 in May and and .324 in June. Also, those two months provided 40 of his 69 RBI this season. During that time, his average reached into the .350s and he was battling Jose Altuve for the league lead in that category. Since then, Xander’s production has plummeted.

Bogaerts Since The All-Star Break

Since Bogaerts was selected to his first All-Star game in San Diego last month, his season has taken a turn for the worse. Since the break, he has batted just .271 and has only four doubles and 13 RBI in 140 at-bats. That has brought his average all the way down to .310. Also, in his last 15 games he is hitting a measly .238 with an  OBP of .269.

In all seriousness, most guys would still love to have the numbers Bogaerts has this year. That is not what I am trying to say. He is still a tremendous talent and among the league’s best shortstops. But during this recent hot streak the Red Sox appar to be on, Xander has not been able to be a major contributor. In high leverage situations he has struggled and has made a habit at lunging at pitches and popping up constantly.

The Red Sox have tried a multitude of methods to try and get Bogaerts back to his former self. He has had a few days off, which he did deserve. The hitting instructors have also worked meticulously with him to fix his swing. So far, we are still waiting on the guy we saw the first half of the season. There is little doubt that his star will shine again, but it remains to be seen whether he will get his swing back in time to help his team make the postseason.

Sox Must Master Off-Season

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After a frenzy of a trade deadline moving most of the pitching staff, the Sox must master off-season free agency. By mastering free agency, the target should be signing and bringing pitcher Justin Masterson back to Boston. He began his career with the Red Sox from 2006-2009. He was later traded away to Cleveland for Victor Martinez who was supposed to have been a big back the Sox needed at the time.

Re-living the trade deadline of 2009, teams were interested in a young fire balling Daniel Bard. The Sox felt he was untouchable at the time and unloaded Masterson. What a mistake that was looking back on it! Masterson did a fine job in Cleveland, most of the time being the staff ace while he was there, until being traded recently to St Louis. Masterson won’t be a tier one free agent pitcher as those will-be-Max-Scherzer and the since departed Jon Lester.

As much as Sox fans would like to think that Lester will come back in the off-season, that isn’t going to happen. He teased Red Sox fans by saying even if traded, he would welcome a return back. After hearing owner John Henry’s comments about not signing players to long-term contracts after a player hits 30, there is your proof he is not returning. If he was going to be here, the Sox would have already signed him.

Getting back to Masterson, he could work out as a veteran addition to the staff to help with the youngsters that are going to be here. He could potentially be the Mike Napoli or Shane Victorino free agent attraction the Sox are looking for—big money, short-term three-four year deal. Three is my guess of what they would top out for him.

This would only be the case if he doesn’t go on too much of a tear for the Cardinals and prices himself out of what the Red Sox would be willing to commit to him. The Cardinals did good for themselves getting him and John Lackey to join them for the stretch run. Masterson has played for John Farrell before during his first stint here and would be a good fit in the clubhouse.

The future of the staff appears to be Ruby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman at this time. Allen Webster hasn’t shown much yet, but he will continue to get more chances. The Sox still have, and are high on, Henry Owens who is still in the minors and could be here possibly in September for a cup of coffee. With the remaining games of the year, the Sox should get a good idea of whom will be ready for 2015 and what they will need to do in free agency.