Padres Demote Will Middlebrooks to Triple-A

The career of Will Middlebrooks has taken another sour turn with the Padres demoting the third baseman to Triple-A on Wednesday as he continues to struggle at the plate.

When the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval last winter, Middlebrooks spot on the roster was immediately in question. Will MiddlebrooksMiddlebrooks was traded to the Padres for Ryan Hanigan just before Christmas, in one of the smaller moves the Padres made this past winter after adding Justin Upton, Wil Myers and James Shields. Middlebrooks was the Padres Opening Day third baseman.

After making his debut with the Red Sox in 2012 the Bobby V year, Middlebrooks has not been able to make a real consistent stay in the major leagues. He claimed the third base job from Kevin Youkilis that year and was on track to be the third baseman of the Red Sox for years to come. He got hit by a pitch on his wrist late that season which cost him the rest of the season. In 2013 he was up and down with the Red Sox and even started games in the playoffs until Xander Bogaerts took over at third base, while Stephen Drew was still on the team.

In 2014 Middlebrooks was demoted to Pawtucket once the Sox signed Drew for a second time and rejoined the team after the fire sale that saw the Red Sox trade Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew. Last season with the Red Sox Middlebrooks hit a Mike Napoliesque .191 with only 2 home runs and 19 RBI. Sox brass wanted Middlebrooks to play winter ball but he declined.

With another slow start this season hitting .212 with the Padres he was demoted to El Paso after already losing his third base job to Yangervis Solarte. Middlebrooks had so much potential with the Red Sox. He had 15 home runs in his first 287 at bats in the big leagues and even hit for a decent average hitting .288. Many question the moves of Ben Cherington this past off-season but it seems the Red Sox got the better end of this deal.

Ryan Hanigan may not have been a flashy name but he is a major league catcher and the Red Sox would have forced Blake Swihart’s development even further after the injury to Christian Vasquez, something they may have done with Middlebrooks.

Xander Bogaerts has finally arrived

Xander Bogaerts burst on to the scene in 2013, showing incredible poise in the big leagues during the Red Sox run to the championship that year. He set his bar too high during that run, as a matter of fact, as he followed it up with a disappointing 2014 season in which he finished with a .240 average, 12 home runs and 138 strikeouts, per ESPN. So, what was different last year? The Red Sox brought in one Stephen Drew to play shortstop, because Xander was struggling defensively at the time. He made 10 errors in 44 games before Drew came in, according to ESPN.

That move was not good for his confidence, to say the least, as he struggled the rest of Xander Boagertsthe way. He couldn’t break out of a months-long slump, and his defense was still bad, as he made 10 errors at 3rd in 99 games in 2014. That’s changing, it would seem, though, as Xander seems to be in a more comfortable place. He’s hitting .291 right now, and he’s capable of drilling the ball. One of the highlights of Tuesday’s 1-0 win was Xander Bogaerts smacking a double off the center field wall in the 7th. He would then come around to score on Rusney Castillo’s RBI single later in the inning.

And it’s not just getting it done with his bat. He’s getting it done with his glove, as well. He’s made 3 more plays than the average shortstop, which ranks 9th among active shortstops according to the Globe. He’s certainly progressed from last year, and it seems that he’s back on track after struggling so much last season. This kid is still 22, and while he’s not a superstar yet, I think he’s finally in a comfortable position. He showed us flashes of what he had in 2013, but he has a chance this season to really tap into his full potential. There’s no impending Stephen Drew signing this year to hurt his confidence, so this is his year to really make the shortstop position his. Hopefully, he can keep this up.

Grading the Trade of Stephen Drew to the Yankees

Stephen DrewThe final trade for the Boston Red Sox before the deadline sent veteran shortstop Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees in exchange for struggling infielder Kelly Johnson. It was the first time these rivals traded since 1997.

In the deal, the Yankees will pay the rest of the pro-rated contract Drew signed back in late May while the Red Sox get to move Xander Bogaerts back to short.

Drew has been struggling offensively all season, after missing spring training, with a .176 average and just four home runs in 39 games with the Red Sox. The 31-year-old did bolster the middle infield defense, but did not provide any depth to the Red Sox lineup and stunted the growth of Bogaerts at shortstop.

Johnson has been sidelined since July 23 with a strained left groin and should be set to be activated on Thursday after a couple rehab contests on Tuesday and Wednesday. The struggling infielder posted just a .219/.304/.373 slash line in  227 plate appearances with just six homers and 22 RBI for the Yankees while playing the super utility role.

It’s hard to see how Johnson fits into this team with Brock Holt already serving as a super utility guy, but another power bat could be good for this team off the bench.

Overall, this deal gave the Red Sox the chance to press the restart button at shortstop, and give their most talented prospect a chance to regroup and show he can play his natural position. Plus, the Yankees have to eat the money the Red Sox had to pay Drew to get him to sign.

Grade: B+

Timeline of the Red Sox Roster Explosion

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Just a few weeks ago, A.J. Pierzynski was behind the plate and a familiar cast of pitchers were taking the hill. Now, there is a whole new group going forward and Red Sox fans may not know exactly what to think. Let’s take a close look at just how everything unfolded and the recent changes to the Red Sox roster.

July 9th- A.J. Pierzynski designated for assignment

Pierzynski was always known for being disliked around the MLB and apparently the same feelings were felt in the Red Sox clubhouse. Christian Vazquez was brought up to take his place.

July 10th- July 21st- The Sox win 9 of 10 games

Once Pierzynski was released, the Sox went into the All-Star break with a bang and came out in the same fashion. The team that was starting to get counted out by some fans had turned things around. Some even thought that they could pull off some heroics and make another playoff run.

July 24th- Jon Lester contract talks halted

With everything hush-hush between Lester and the front office, Larry Lucchino confirmed that contract talks would be put aside until after the season. Meanwhile, the Red Sox lose their final three games to the Blue Jays and essentially nullify their hopes of a playoff hunt.

July 25th- Jon Lester makes final start with the Sox

Lester took the hill against David Price, one of the Sox newest foes, in a game that could have had some bad blood boil over. However, Price didn’t end up hitting Big Papi and Lester ended up going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on a Desmond Jennings home run. He struck out seven in what ended up being a no decision in a 6-4 Rays win.

July 26th- Jake Peavy traded to the Giants

Saturday morning, the Red Sox made their first trade by sending Jake Peavy to the Giants for pitching prospects Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar. Peavy was having a mediocre season with the Red Sox and it was time that some of the younger pitchers got an extended tryout in the rotation.

July 26th- Mike Carp requests a trade

Mike Carp, a valuable and productive bench player last season, really never got it going in 2014. Zero home runs, injuries, and sub par defense doesn’t earn you playing time. Carp clearly didn’t appreciate that fact though and you can’t blame a guy who wants to get off the bench of a last place team.

July 27th- Felix Doubront “wouldn’t mind a trade”

One day after Carp voices his displeasure, Doubront did the same. After pitching his way out of the rotation and finding himself with the mop-up job, Doubront let everyone know that he is a starter. The next day, Doubront came into the game trailing 5-0 and really gave the Sox fans a big middle finger. Two thirds of an inning, six runs, six hits, two walks. Thanks for your time Felix.

July 27th- Lester for Kemp?

Gordon Edes reported on Sunday afternoon that one possible trade for Lester could involve Matt Kemp as the centerpiece. The Dodgers love to wheel and deal, as we all know quite well, but is the oft-injured Kemp and his huge contract what the Sox need going forward?

July 28th- Lester and Lackey rumors intensify

Reporter Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Sox were being “hit hard on both Lester and Lackey from most contenders”. Lackey’s name had not been heard that much, but it was becoming more and more clear what the Red Sox were up to. Rosenthal later tweeted that the Sox were indeed open to trading both pitchers.

July 29th- Lester scratched from Wednesday’s start

After the Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays Tuesday night, the Red Sox announced that Lester would not be making his scheduled start on Wednesday. This basically proved that the rumors were true and that the Sox were shopping their ace. Any team looking for Lester would want him to start shortly after he joined the team, so one more start for the Red Sox would mean one less for his new team.

July 30th-Noon- Lackey to be dealt

Once again, Ken Rosenthal reported that there is a “very good chance” Lackey would be traded as well. Just a few hours later, it was reported that Lackey actually asked the front office to be traded. Carp and Doubront I can understand, but say it ain’t so John!

July 30th- 2 PM- Lester to the Orioles?

Word on the Twittersphere was that the Red Sox were close to dealing Lester within the division to Baltimore. That would certainly have been a tough pill to swallow for Sox fans!

July 30th- 3 PM- Doubront dealt to the Cubs

Theo Epstein got an old friend back from the Red Sox in Felix Doubront for a player to be named later. If we end up getting anything out of this deal, I’ll be surprised, but at this point it’s a win either way.

July 30th- 5 PM- Lackey scratched from Friday’s start

Just like Lester was scratched from his start, it was announced Lackey would be scratched from his scheduled start against the Yankees on Friday. Anthony Ranaudo will now make his MLB debut against our old buddy Chris Capuano.

July 31st- 9:45 AM- Lester traded to A’s

To many fans dismay, Jon Lester was officially traded to the Athletics along with fan favorite Jonny Gomes in exchange for the Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes is signed through next season, but is not eligible for a qualifying offer. It would make sense that the Sox would try and lock him up long term if they don’t want to include him in a separate deal.

July 31st- 12:45 PM- Lackey traded to Cardinals

The second big trade of the day came just before 1 PM, as the Sox parted ways with John Lackey. In return, veteran outfielder Allen Craig and 26-year-old right handed starter Joe Kelly were sent to the Sox. Could more plans be in the future considering the abundance of outfielders?

July 31st- 3 PM- Andrew Miller to the O’s

It was being reported that the Red Sox were very close to trading the lefty to Detroit, but once that fell apart, another suitor needed to be found. In return for Miller, who is having a career year, the Orioles sent back left handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, the number 3 prospect in their system.

July 31st- 3:45- Stephen Drew to the Yankees?!

Some were saying the Sox were done after they parted ways with Miller. No sir! Stephen Drew’s second stint with the Red Sox lasted just over two months before he was traded to the Yankees. That’s right, the Yankees did us a favor! They even threw in Kelly Johnson. I’m not sure if there’s a spot for him on the team, but this should mean Xander Bogaerts will be returning to shortstop.

Talk about a fire sale. A total makeover. The 2014 trade deadline has been the craziest one in the history of the Red Sox and that is no small feat. In just the past decade, the Sox have traded away Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez, two of the biggest faces of the team.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the returns the Red Sox received. It is hard to see Lester go, but with what had transpired, it became clear the Red Sox were not willing to pay him. I hope they prove me wrong and somehow bring him back in the off-season, but if he does well in Oakland, his asking price will go even higher. The offense increased dramatically and we have a chance to see some of the team’s pitching prospects. Expect a free agent signing or two in the offseason to bolster the rotation though.

Twitter has been full of “Clay Buchholz is going to be our ace next year?!?!” The Sox aren’t stupid. They know that they need proven pitchers if they are going to contend and I fully anticipate a solid rotation next year.

As for now, it should be interesting to see how the roster unfolds. There’s too many outfielders right now to make everyone happy, so what will happen with that situation? We may not be on our way to the World Series, but I am pretty excited looking at the last two months of the season.

Bye Bye Stephen Drew!

stephen drewAt the trade deadline this year, the Boston Red Sox did the unspeakable: they did business with the New York Yankees. The last time the two did business together came all the way back in 2010 when New York claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz off waivers from Boston. The last time the two teams came together and made an actual trade was all the way back in 1997. Well, the two came together and Boston sent Stephen Drew—and—cash to New York in exchange for Kelly Johnson. This trade is by far the best trade the Red Sox made.

The overpaid Drew, who earns over $10 million this year, has a slash line of .176/.255/.328 making this the worst season of his career. Not only this, but as the Boston Red Sox starting shortstop, he bumped Xander Bogaerts over to third base. From here, things spiraled out of control and Bogaerts slumped dramatically. Whether or not it came from a confidence kill or not is up for debate, but the rookie owns a .389 OBP as a shortstop and a .217 OBP as a third baseman this year in nearly identical playing time.
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With Drew gone, this opens up a spot at the Major League level. Will Middlebrooks can get another shot to prove he is the third baseman of the future throughout the course of these next two months. This is especially important because this year is a lost cause at this point. In 100 at-bats for the Paw Sox, Middlebrooks has a slash line of .240/.287/.390, but giving him a chance at this point couldn’t hurt.
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The return on Drew was not great, but is an upgrade at the plate nonetheless. Kelly Johnson plays all around the infield, but is currently on the disabled list right now. He owns a slash line of .219/.304/.373 on the year in 77 games for the Bronx Bombers making him a viable option for a utility infielder. Johnson should be back around mid-August and Boston will need to make some sort of a roster move then to balance out the rosters.
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Although this trade failed to make headlines, it was arguably the best trade made at the deadline. It rid Boston of fan-hated Stephen Drew and shipped him off to the rival club. The city of Boston is smiling as they wait and see how New York reacts to Drew and hopes that he makes them as miserable as he made the city of Boston this year.

Welcome to Boston, Kelly Johnson!

Kelly Johnson The New York Yankees swooped in and signed versatile left-handed hitter Kelly Johnson in the off season to a one-year, $2.4 million pact. At the time the deal was made, I’ll admit, I thought it was a steal for the Bronx Bombers. He could play multiple positions, had been above-average offensively throughout his career, and was just three years removed from a 5.4 fWAR season. I believed he was the perfect fit for Boston, and was disappointed they failed to pursue him. Johnson would have provided them with much-needed outfield depth, a steady stick, and insurance for the inconsistent Will Middlebrooks.

But, alas, like I said, he wound up with the Evil Empire instead, and surely would pay dividends for the club. Well, baseball is an unpredictable game, and Johnson with his .219 batting average and 88 wRC+ has been nothing but a miserable failure. To some Yankees fans he’s been the equivalent of Stephen Drew to Red Sox fans — so, yeah, that bad.

Despite my frustrations before the season began, as fate would have it, Kelly Johnson would play in Boston in 2014 after all. Not necessarily the role I had envisioned coming into the year, but he’ll still be able to platoon with Middlebrooks, who’s expected to come off the disabled list tomorrow, at third base.

Few suggest a change of scenery may do him some good, and while that might be true to an extent, what really will make a difference for Johnson is his statistics deviating towards his career totals. For example, his .260 BABIP is way off from his career .303 BABIP, and that’ll likely inch closer to his career-mark in the second-half, meaning more balls he puts in play result in a hit instead of an out.

Watching Johnson struggle on both sides of the ball this season makes me hesitant to say he’s the player I originally thought he was. However, I truly believe in his ability and think he could have an impact with Boston.

Nevertheless, he can’t be worse than Stephen Drew was, and for that, I happily say, welcome to Boston, Kelly Johnson!