I have to say, I am still undecided on whether I like the Mookie Betts call up at this time. I have strong opinions on many Red Sox items. But I am still up in the air on this one. Maybe throwing thoughts down on paper will help me out.
On one hand, I have been saying all year to “play the kids”. The Sox won the World Series out of nowhere last year. They had a team full of serviceable major league ballplayers, but really only a couple of superstars. Other than Koji and Nava, none of the players really had a “career year”. They all just meshed together well and basically everything fell all into the right places. Quite frankly, it is still hard to believe. They have also won 3 World Series’ in the last decade. They have a pretty good amount of prospects in the minor league system (at least pitchers). In reality, the time is probably right to start implementing kids.
On the other hand, where I was completely willing to watch the Celtics lose every game last season in order to get the best pick they could for the recent, supposedly deep, draft, I am unsure I really want to watch the local baseball team tank completely. It’s kind of the line the Red Sox management team is straddling as well, albeit for vastly different reasons. I just want them to be competitive because I love baseball and want to see winning action. We all know the Sox want to do it for ratings and anything else that leads to them making more money. Even though they will tell you that is not the case. Sure.
In any event, I was all for them working in SOME of the kids from the start, regardless of whether that meant losing a few extra games in the name of development. I certainly didn’t think that this method would kill any chances the Sox had this year if they did that. If the veterans they had continued to do the same things they really always had in their careers, then this plus the kids should have made this a contending team again. I also left open the possibility of working more kids in over the course of the year, as there would be injuries, there would be underachievers, and there would be guys that you could move for value at or near the trading deadline and not sabotage the chances for the current year. I actually thought they MAY be able to straddle that line with some success, while also acknowledging the chances of back-to-back World Series Championships were likely slim anyway.
What I didn’t count on was most of the players not even coming close to what they have done in their careers. As well as a couple of lingering injuries. And a re-signing that made absolutely no sense.
To recap, I was totally fine with Xander being the SS, Middlebrooks the 3B and Bradley Jr. being the CF at the start of the year. If the other 6 spots held their own and the great players were still great players, I figured the offense would be fine. Unfortunately, although Gomes is about the same, Nava plummeted back like he was managing his college team. Victorino has been hurt the entire time (we knew he would be hurt, but not basically the whole first half). Napoli was hurt for a bit and I feel he has underachieved when not. Didn’t love the AJ deal, but for 1 year, I suppose I would be ok. He would at least hit and maybe we could move him at the deadline. Work in Vazquez this year with Ross and with an eye to start next year. But AJ hasn’t really hit. And more importantly, Pedroia and Ortiz, even though Ortiz’ power has been pretty much there, are playing WELL under their career norms. Throw in the fact that even the role players that contributed last year, such as Carp and Ross, haven’t been good either. The Pedroia thing isn’t getting nearly enough play. It could be that his wrist is still hurt and that is affecting his bat. If it is, force him to sit by putting him on the DL and make it right. I’m starting to wonder if his career is heading down the Youkilis path. Youkie played hard all the time and threw his body around so much that it broke down earlier than most players. Wonder if Pedroia is going through the same thing, especially considering his size. Maybe that’s why he bit on the seemingly lowball extension. He knew it.
Sssssoooooo, there goes that idea. Then Bradley has sucked more than we thought (at the plate) and Will sucked and then got hurt…and…although Xander at least hit and was developing at SS, the Sox panicked and inexplicably signed Stephen Drew. Not only is Drew worthless, but Bogaerts has struggled since being pushed back to 3rd. Not to mention that there will be no room for Middlebrooks when he comes back AND he blocks Cecchini from getting any kind of cup of coffee this year to get his feet wet. What a joke. The biggest joke is that they actually caved and gave Drew his prorated 14.1 mil from the qualifying offer that he turned down over the winter. As I said last year when he signed for 9.5 mil, when they gave him his 10 mil this year, with presumably no interest from ANYONE both of those years, couldn’t they have signed him for 3 mil???! Who were they competing with? Who wanted this stiff? But I digress…
As for Betts, he was not one of the prospects I was expecting to see this year. Especially since he was only a second basemen at the start of the year. I figured he was quite a ways away. Additionally, I figured he would have to learn a new position and that may take time…and it would happen in the minors. (Kind of bothers me the Sox are seemingly panicking where they are having guys like Betts, Holt, Cecchini and maybe soon Middlebrooks learning new positions on the fly, instead of perfecting them in the offseason…story for a different day). Mostly, I was thinking the above guys in the field and then some of the pitching prospects. As they have started to with Workman and de la Rosa (Rubby should have stayed and someone else moved or released or something…again, a story for a different day). Then maybe work Ranaudo, Britton, Webster, Barnes, etc. in relief toward the deadline and September, with an eye to rotation spots next year and beyond. Kind of felt Owens was in the same boat as Betts, not here until at least 2015. Figured some of the young pitchers would also be auditioning for trades…after all, not enough 40-man roster (or rotation) spots for all of them.
Betts has only played a handful of games above Single-A and is learning a bunch of new positions on the fly. Yes, he has passed every test, at bat and in the field. But is this pushing it? If he comes up and looks foolish, does it stunt his growth? Is he going to be a worse hitter than Bradley? I’ve long held that the Sox keep their players in the minors for way too long, but I was ok with it in this case. Just seems too fast.
At this point, I really don’t believe the Sox are going to make some noise in the playoffs however (or to GET to the playoffs, for that matter). They aren’t that far away in the standing now, with several teams between them and a spot though. The indications are there that it just isn’t going to happen however. Even though they will never admit it, some of the vets are surely comfortable after the win last year. It subconsciously affects them, I am sure of it. Some of the guys just actually suck, like Drew and Carp. AJ has brought a “Beckett-type” attitude with him, I am sure of that as well. That can never be a good thing.
To me, after half a season of evaluation, it is time to start moving some of these vets while they can get something of value for them. Even a box of baseballs for some. It’s just not the same feeling. I’ll detail some of those thoughts in another piece.
But where that leads me to on Betts…is that as this appears to be a season of going nowhere, the Sox may as well have him up and give him regular at-bats until the All-Star break at least. If the results are bleak, they can ship him back quickly. If there are positive results, they should play it out kind of like how they seem to be riding it out with Holt (who saw that one coming, by the by?). But there is no harm in seeing Mookie play a few games at the major league level, I have come to that conclusion.
Posted on June 29, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged AJ, Barnes, Bradley Jr., Britton, Carp, Drew, Farrell, Gomes, Middlebrooks, Mookie Betts, Nava, Ortiz, Owens, Papi, Pedroia, Ranaudo, Red Sox, Ross, Rubby de la Rosa, Victorino, Webster, Workman, Xander Bogaerts, Youkilis. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.