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.

Mookie Betts Injury Gives Jackie Bradley Jr. Opportunity

Mookie Betts has proven that athleticism is not something he is lacking this season. He has quick bat speed and learned to play center field very well. Tuesday night he made a great catch running full speed but flipped over the bullpen in right center field. The catch did not count as it was a home run after Betts flipped over the wall, but Betts was diagnosed with a concussion. He was placed on the 7 days disabled list on Wednesday and the team called up Jackie Bradley Jr.

Manager John Farrell said Bradley Jr. will be playing center field everyday while Betts is Mookie Betts injuryout. The extent to Betts concussion is not known but the Red Sox should not rush Betts back as it already is a lost season, while Betts has been one of the few bright spots.

Obviously no one wants to wish someone to get injured but Bradley Jr. has to relish this opportunity as it looks like Rusney Castillo will be in right field for the remainder of the season. Bradley Jr. has proven he can hit minor league pitching this season as he has been one of the best hitters in the International League for the PawSox. He has also shown power as of late having two, two homer games in the past week. The defense has never been the question with Bradley Jr. it has always been whether he can hit major league pitching.

With Betts on the disabled list this could be the last test Bradley will get with the Red Sox. When Shane Victorino went down with an injury earlier this season the Red Sox acquired Alejandro De Aza instead of bringing up Bradley Jr. obviously not what he wanted and although De Aza has played well in his stint with the Red Sox, they should be playing Bradley, as De Aza will likely be gone after this season.

With the trade deadline Friday afternoon it is likely now Bradley will be still with the Red Sox after he built up some value at Triple-A. With an outfield likely full for next season unless Hanley Ramirez changes positions, this is will an opportunity for Jackie Bradley Jr. to prove he can be a piece off the bench next season.

Shane Victorino Traded to Angels

The Red Sox have made their first move of the deadline week, trading Shane Victorino and cash considerations to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge on Monday, according to the Boston Globe.

Josh Rutledge is a career .259 hitter in 266 career games, and previously spent 3 years in Shane VictorinoColorado with the Rockies before coming to the Angels according to the Boston Globe. He’s listed as a 2nd baseman, but plays shortstop and also has limited experience at 3rd base as well (5 career games at 3rd).

This move isn’t bad, considering Victorino’s injury history. While the Red Sox have Brock Holt at 2nd base right now filling in for Dustin Pedroia, a little extra depth never went amiss given Rutledge’s versatility. Plus the move clears space in that overcrowded outfield for the likes of Rusney Castillo, who got called up after the deal and will hit 7th tonight.

Looking back at Shane’s time with Boston, people will remember the injuries of the past couple of years, but they’ll also remember what he did for the Red Sox and the city of Boston during that magical 2013 season. Remember the grand slam in game 6 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, or the 4 RBI game in game 6 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals? While the past couple of years have been filled with injuries for Shane Victorino, he was a solid addition to the roster, at least for that one unforgettable 2013 season.

This move seemed inevitable in a way. With both Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. down in Pawtucket, the Red Sox needed to do something to clear space for them to return, and this was part of that. Both of them should be with the big league ball club. I think it’s about time Castillo got a long, hard look in the major league, after signing that $72 million deal late last summer. Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to have turned a corner, has played better in the minors and needs a better shot to showcase what he can do.

So long, Shane, and thanks for 2013. Hopefully, he gets another shot at the playoffs with LA.

Daniel Nava Begins Rehab Assignment with PawSox

The PawSox got yet another player added to their roster for a rehab assignment this week as Daniel Nava was sent to Pawtucket to play starting on Thursday night. Nava was really lost in the shuffle with the Red Sox roster early on in the year and only collected 73 plate appearances, and has been on the disabled list since May 26 with a thumb bruise.

Nava had a great year in 2013 platooning in left field with Jonny Gomes but struggled last Daniel Navaseason even being optioned to Pawtucket in early May. Nava eventually made his way back to the major league roster but became more of a bench player. The versatility Nava serves is something that does not go unnoticed by Red Sox brass as he plays left and right field well and mixes in first base. Playing the left field wall as many have realized this year with Hanley Ramirez out there is not something that can be taken for granted.

The roster crunch will continue as Shane Victorino just finished up a rehab stint and is expected to be activated this weekend. Ryan Haniagan was activated in time for Thursday night’s blowout against the Blue Jays likely meaning a catcher will lose their roster spot. Which makes me you think, will Nava even have a roster spot when his rehab stint is over?

The chances are likely no but an injury could always occur and have Nava taken advantage of an unfortunate circumstance for someone else. Hanley Ramirez does not look like he will be going on the disabled list soon after a week off with a bruised wrist from a line drive. Shane Victorino hasn’t been healthy for much of his time with the Red Sox, so he might not be on the roster for long. Alejandro De Aza is someone who needs to stay on the Red Sox team as he looks to have provided some sort of spark for the team even if he is just a fourth outfielder on a good team he is a veteran.

Much has been made of Mike Napoli’s struggles this year and John Farrell has said they will stick with him as he has been dropped to as low as 8th in the lineup on some occasions. Nava could take advantage of some playing time if he can get it with Napoli continuing to hit under .200 and striking out a prolific rate as he continues to think the umpires are out to get him with the strike zone.

Daniel Nava began a rehab assignment with the PawSox on Thursday night, but a spot on the Red Sox roster when he is ready to be activated might be his for the taking.

Give Jackie Bradley Jr. a Chance

I’ve changed my tune on Jackie Bradley Jr. in the past few weeks.  Last season, and even into the start of this year, I was not particularly high on him because he was like me when I played baseball: Good in the field, but terrible at the plate. At the start of this year, I would have been happy with Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo as the starters in the outfield, with guys like Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava, as well as Brock Holt, filling in as needed.

But that was before Hanley Ramirez proved to be terrible defensively and Rusney Castillo Jackie Bradley Jr.started down the most expensive minor leaguer path. Shane Victorino’s injury problems are no surprise – it was the same story last year, but it looks like he may be back soon.

My change of heart on Jackie Bradley Jr. mainly started with the first 2 guys, though – Ramirez and Castillo. Both guys are massively underperforming, given what they are getting paid. Ramirez can’t play defense to save his life, and Castillo can’t seem to adjust to Boston at all. As I said earlier, he could be on track to be the most expensive minor league player in history.

Right now, I say give him a fair chance. The only other time he was up, he didn’t get a hit, but he only had 11 at bats and 3 of those at bats came against Felix Hernandez. It’s hard for a lot of guys to get hits off of Hernandez, so it’s hard to fault him there. I would say give him a fair chance this time around, because he can only be an improvement for the Red Sox at the moment. It would be pretty hard for the Red Sox to get any worse than they have been, and at the minimum, his glove will help. But I think it will end up being more than that. He has been looking more comfortable at the plate already, so I say see where it goes.

Because when you’re all the way down, the team can only go up, right?

Shane Victorino Almost Set For Comeback

After missing much of last season as well as this year, Shane Victorino is finally getting closer to making a comeback for the Red Sox.  Victorino was put on the 15-day disabled list on May 24 with a left calf strain, and hasn’t played since.  The Sox outfielder has also missed some time with a bad right hamstring.  He is expected to play Wednesday night for the Pawtucket Red Sox, and if everything goes as planned, we should see him in a Boston jersey soon.

Victorino’s injury problems started last season when he only played a total of 30 games. Shane Victorino Sox fans were excited to see his name on the opening day roster this season, but were disappointed shortly after when he was yet again sent to the bench with an injury.

Victorino came to the Red Sox in 2013.  During that year, he was one of the best players not only on the Sox, but in the league.  He played 122 games with a .294 batting average, and was also hit by 18 pitches, which led the league.  He even got some consideration for the MVP of the league, coming in twenty second in the voting, and won a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts in the outfield.

He may be remembered most for his play during the Red Sox improbable run to their 2013 World Series title.  He had the two biggest hits of the playoffs that year.  During the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, Victorino hit a Grand Slam in the eighth inning to put the Sox up two runs, and then followed that up with a three-run double in the World Series clinching game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sox fans have not seen Victorino play a full season since his first season with the team.    Hopefully, if he can stay healthy he can be the spark that starts the Sox on a positive run.  Because with the way this season is going, everyone knows that something good needs to happen soon.