The Travis Shaw Situation

The buzz around Yoan Moncada reached a fever pitch this week as he was called up to the Red Sox on Thursday. Moncada was the #1 prospect in all of baseball and, like Andrew Benintendi, skipped AAA. Moncada signed as a second baseman, but has had to change to third base to fill the Red Sox needs. So where does that leave Travis Shaw?

Shaw was one of the hottest stories for the Red Sox coming into the season, replacing ShawPablo Sandoval in the starting lineup. Shaw was exactly what Sox fans were looking for. Sandoval showed up way out of shape and after a tough 2015 season, fans were certainly writing him off. Shaw, on the other hand, was never a top prospect and took the job away from Sandoval with an impressive spring training.

Shaw’s 2016 Season

To begin the 2016 season, Shaw raised a lot of eyebrows around New England and the baseball world. In April, he was scorching the ball, hitting .314 with 27 hits and 15 RBI. The formidable numbers did not cease there as he hit five homers in May and brought his RBI total to 35. His power surge even earned him the nickname “The Mayor of Ding Dong City.” Shaw was anything but an easy out in the bottom half of the order, and was also sure-handed at the hot corner.

After that, the numbers have steadily dwindled. He hit just .214 in June and brought his average all the way down to .269 before the All-Star break. August was the low point for Shaw, as he hit an abysmal .167 with 12 hits and six RBI all month. In fact, since the All-Star break, shaw has hit just .205 with six homers and 18 RBI.

Moncada’s season has been quite the opposite of Shaw’s. In two different minor leagues this season, Moncada has done nothing but produce. He hit .294 with 15 homers and 52 extra-base hits. The 21-year old Cuban also stole 45 bases with a .918 OPS and 207 total bases. Moncada has even drawn comparisons to Mike Trout and Bo Jackson for his athleticism and instincts.

Now that we’ve actually seen Moncada play in real games, it is easy to see he was a better investment than fellow Cuban Rusney Castillo. It seems everything Moncada has done, he’s done it well. With that, the reign of “The Mayor” may soon end in Boston.

Chris Young I’m Over You

I’m just going to cut to the chase and say it—I’m over you Chris Young. I’m sick and tired of hearing, “Oh well he hits lefties very well” and “we envision him to see majority of the AB’s against lefties this season”. It’s all a bunch of crap, and it’s time to own up to the fact thatChris Young this signing was stupid, idiotic, and a waste of money.

I don’t care that he hit .327 against lefties in 2015 with the Yankees, because guess what? That doesn’t mean anything. Instead of only talking about his 2015 season why don’t we talk about his last 3 seasons as a left-handed hitter shall we? From 2013-2015 in 375 AB’s Young hit a mere .245 against LHP.

.245? .245? How that merits a two-year, 13 million dollar contract is beyond me. I mean, the guy’s hitting .182 on the year and guess what?! He’s faced more RHP than LHP. Are you kidding me? Yeah, he’s a decent fielder but hell, if you wanted a fourth bat who hit’s lefties well why didn’t you just have a reunion with the “Flying Hawaiian” Shane Victorino, who’s hit .291 against LHP the last three seasons? Or trade for a guy like Franklin Gutierrez who’s batting .283 against LHP the last few seasons as well. Now obviously I know that wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s head, but it just goes to show that there were other options out there, but we settled on Chris Young?

At the end of the day, I’m just a rookie sports journalist whose passion for the game sometimes clouds my judgement.  I at least have the smarts and know the numbers to tell you that Chris Young is a waste of money and time. Even Rusney Castillo (who in my opinion, is only a Red Sox because they failed miserably at signing Jose Abreu) is mashing .385 against LHP currently while in Pawtucket. Plain and simple Chris, I’m over you, the fans are over you, and pretty soon this team will be over you.

So I wish you luck and hope you can figure out how to hit a lefty, cause if not it’s off to DFA Land for you pal.

Red Sox Farm System Packed With Talent

From Salem to Pawtucket the Red Sox farm system is already seeing a lot of success from its minor league players, and it’s only the end of the first month of the season.

The High-A Class Salem Red Sox have two red hot players tearing up the Carolina LeagueRed Sox Farm System with no signs of slowing down. Yoan Moncada (Boston’s No.1 prospect at MLB.com) and Andrew Benintendi (Boston’s No.3 prospect at MLB.com) both have 13-game hitting streaks going that they protected Saturday April 23rd against Winston-Salem. That makes 14 out of 16 games in which Benintendi has hit safely. Going into the last week of April, Moncada is hitting .357 with six extra base hits, 14 runs, eight RBIs and 13 stolen bases. Benintendi is hitting .338 with six triples, eight doubles, and 11 RBIs. The way the Salem Red Sox are playing makes me wish I still lived in Virginia so I could watch them live!

Class A Greenville’s Anderson Espinoza, Boston’s No. 4 prospect at MLB.com, has a 1-1 record this season with a 2.45 ERA in four starts with 20 strikeouts. In 15 starts last season between Dominican Summer League, rookie Gulf Coast League, and Greenville, Espinoza commanded a 1.23 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings. After being signed to a $1.8 million bonus by Boston during the 2014-15 international signing period, Espinoza has been closely watched by the Red Sox Nation as he continues his climb up to the majors.

Here in Pawtucket you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who is disappointed in the Class AAA Red Sox performance so far. The Class AAA team goes into the final week of April having won 8 of their last 10 games and continue their fight to stay in first place in the International League. Rusney Castillo and Blake Swihart continue working on their hitting so they can rejoin the Red Sox in Boston. While Swihart has a little ways to go before his batting average improves, Castillo is hitting .303 with a .395 OBP in eight games.

Fans should have a lot to be excited about as the Red Sox farm system continues to develop its hot prospects.

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?

Replacing Castillo With Holt Makes Defense Weaker

Replacing Castillo with Holt in left field is leaving many in Red Sox Nation scratching their heads. While a quick glance at Rusney Castillo’s offensive numbers justifies manager John Farrell’s decision, it leaves a gaping hole in the Red Sox defense, a hole that Brock Holt isn’t qualified to fill.

Castillo hasn’t done well in spring training games this year. He was hitting only .189 as ofReplacing Castillo
March 31st, not exactly a reflection of the $72.5 million investment the Red Sox made when they signed him in 2014. But making Holt a left fielder and benching Castillo fixes a defensive problem that wasn’t quite broken to begin with. Castillo’s fielding isn’t the problem. He only made five errors as an outfielder (and none as a left fielder) in 80 games last season. It’s Castillo’s hitting that needs work.

Again, Castillo’s inconsistent hitting is definitely a problem. He hit .253 last season but this season’s spring training proves that he still has a lot of progress to make before he can reclaim a spot in the line up. Jackie Bradley Jr. had the same problem, but after tweaking his stance and swing, the Glove Glove-nominated outfielder found his stride in 2015 to finish the season with 31 extra base hits and a .249 batting average, up from the .198 he hit in 2014. Another important thing to keep in mind is Castillo’s $72.5 million contract. Stop and think about that for a second.  After taxes he’ll still have around $30 million or so. The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year (which is ten times more than what most teachers make). How are Red Sox fans supposed to react to the fact that Castillo is now an eight figure salary back up player?

Replacing Castillo Is A Waste Of His Defense Experience

Obviously, Castillo’s poor hitting can’t be ignored. It’d be just as much of a waste if the Red Sox ignored his offensive numbers. But making Holt left fielder isn’t the answer. The only way Castillo is going to become a better hitter is if he gets more at-bats at the major league level where the experience he gains will help him. I hate to see a good left fielder replaced with someone who doesn’t know the Green Monster well. After all, it took Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice years to learn how to play off the wall. Replacing Castillo only dilutes the defensive experience he’s gained.

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.