|09.03.14 at 6:20 pm ET|
NEW YORK — It has been a difficult time for Jackie Bradley Jr. The 24-year-old hit .212/.288/.290 in the big leagues, a performance that resulted in his being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-August. His results have been little better there, as he’s hit .212/.246/.273 in Triple-A.
As reported at the time of his assignment to Pawtucket, there have been questions inside the Red Sox organization about whether Bradley was receptive to some of the messages that he was receiving from team officials and coaches — a concern that is distinct from his willingness to work or his desire to improve. While those questions were real, however, GM Ben Cherington suggested that such concerns had nothing to do with the move to demote Bradley and call up Mookie Betts to be the everyday center fielder in mid-August.
“First of all, as far as the question about whether that was part of the decision to send him down, I can say absolutely not. The decision to send him down was based on our feeling at the time that the offensive part of the game — that he needed to develop a routine that worked for him and it was going to be easier for him to do that for some period of time in Pawtucket,” Cherington said in Yankee Stadium. I’m not a coach. I know that every player is different, is going to respond differently to guidance. We know that Jackie has had a ton of success in his life as a baseball player, at the major league level, at the minor league level. It hasn’t come as quickly for him, at least on the offensive side at the major league level, and that’s not easy for a guy to deal with. There’s never been an issue from the Red Sox’s perspective of whether he’s willing to work or whether he cares, anything like that. We’re trying to find the right way to reach every player, including Jackie, and then the player has to have a responsibility then too. That’s a relationship that we strive to reach. We want to build a good, functional relationship with any player. And if one is struggling it means we still have to work on that, but it had nothing to do with sending him down to Pawtucket.” Read the rest of this entry »
|09.03.14 at 3:13 pm ET|
Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. took to Twitter Wednesday to deny multiple reports that his attitude factored into last month’s demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Bradley, who was hitting .216/.288/.290 at the major league level in 112 games prior to his demotion, wrote that his character isn’t an issue.
Say what you want about me as a ball player but trying to tarnish my character or my work ethic isn’t going to fly..truth will reveal itself
‘ Jackie Bradley Jr. (@JackieBradleyJr) September 3, 2014
In 14 games for Pawtucket, Bradley is hitting .212/.246/.273.
|09.03.14 at 1:18 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the future of the Red Sox as the team’s miserable season moves into its final month. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Red Sox and Yankees are in the midst of a series in Yankee Stadium, and Olney noted that you’d have to go back to the days of Babe Ruth (during one of his rare off seasons) to find a time when both teams were ranked so low in offense.
“We’re closing in on a century since we’ve seen these two teams struggle this much offensively,” Olney said. “As you guys know, the Red Sox are always typically a good offensive team, the Yankees usually have their share of left-handed hitters who thrive in their home park. It just hasn’t been the case this year. It’s been a completely aberrational year.
“And as they play tonight, I was talking to a person within the Yankees organization today, they feel like they’re at the tipping point. The question is whether or not the Red Sox are going to shove them over the edge.
Rusney Castillo started playing in the Red Sox minor league system last week, and he’s moving up to Double-A this week. Olney said he isn’t sure if the Cuban outfielder will make an appearance at Fenway before the season is over.
“I think they should, because they think he’s going to be part of the team next year, and why not?” Olney said. “I know, for example, a lot of teams are doing that these days. The Cubs are doing it with Javier Baez, they’re doing with with Jorge Soler. … If I were the Red Sox, sure. Because you’re not going to pay a guy $72 million unless you think he’s ready to translate right away. So, why not? It’s a signed, sealed deal, so the arbitration clause doesn’t come into it, you might as well throw him into the deep end of the pool.”
Jackie Bradley Jr., who was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 17, is expected to return to Boston for the last few weeks of the season, although his offensive struggles have continued with the PawSox.
“[A return] would make sense,” Olney said. “And if they don’t, then let’s face it, it would have to be taken as punitive. It would have to be taken as a sign from the Red Sox organization that they want Jackie to focus more on making adjustments. That’s the big question now about him within the Red Sox organization: Will he make adjustments? Because I know that during the course of the year when he was approached about that, his response was, ‘Look, I’m fine. I’ll work my way through it. I feel good.’
“Now that we’re near the end of the season, they feel like that just wasn’t done in the way that it should have been done. And they’re going to want him to do that going into next year, and they’re going to want to have him respond. And given the fact that they have this volume of outfielders, I really think next spring is going to be absolutely huge for him.
“And this winter’s going to be huge — I was going to bring this up, too — for Will Middlebrooks. I know that there is desire within the Red Sox organization that Middlebrooks go and play winter ball to get more at-bats, to get more experience and to turn the corner. And if he doesn’t, then I think there’s a good chance he’s going to spend next year in the minor leagues. They don’t want to give him away. And I heard this from a couple of different teams, that when they approach the Red Sox, the Red Sox know that they have a really talented guy in Middlebrooks who hits for power, but they want to give it every opportunity for that to happen with them, because they know if they trade him now it’s essentially going to be at a cut rate, and it’s not going to be at what they believe his value to be. So if he’s going to be in the big leagues next year I think winter ball is going to be a big part of it, and a good spring training would have to be a big part of it.”
|09.03.14 at 12:40 pm ET|
This is Workman’s fourth stretch in the big leagues this year. He is 1-8 with a 4.93 ERA, 6.9 strikeouts and 3.5 walks per nine in 73 big league innings covering 16 games (12 starts). He has suffered the loss in each of his last eight appearances, the longest such streak by a Red Sox pitcher since Hall of Famer Red Ruffing suffered losses in 11 straight appearances in 1929.
Workman made one start with the PawSox after being optioned on August 24, tossing 6 2/3 innings while allowing one run and punching out six. Though he’s mired in a lengthy losing streak in the big leagues, Workman has won six straight decisions in Triple-A.
|09.03.14 at 12:25 pm ET|
Just one Red Sox minor league affiliate played on Tuesday, with three levels set to open their postseason series on Wednesday:
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-1 LOSS (COMPLETION OF SUSPENDED GAME), 2-1 LOSS AT DSL RANGERS (TRAIL BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-1)
(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)
— Outfielder Yoan Aybar followed a 1-for-3 performance in the first contest with a 2-for-4 performance in the second game. In six postseason games, the 17-year-old is hitting .348/.375/.522 with two doubles and a triple, and he carries a five-game hitting streak into Wednesday’s elimination game. Rafael Devers was rightly viewed as the standout prospect at the Sox’ DSL affiliate this year, based on the present tools that separated him dramatically from his peers and permitted him to dominate both in the Dominican and then the Gulf Coast League. But Aybar, who like Devers signed with the Sox in the summer of 2013, showed the sort of tools that permit visions of considerable upside, with the athleticism and enough tools to suggest five-tool potential years down the line. It will probably be another three or four years or so before it becomes clear whether those tools will translate into performance in the upper minors, but the 6-foot-2, 165-pound left-handed-hitting outfielder has a chance to turn heads as he develops.
— Right-hander Daniel Gonzalez allowed one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings, with the 6-foot-5 18-year-old working around six hits and three walks while striking out two. He now has a streak of six straight starts without permitting an earned run, an expanse of 31 1/3 innings. Between the regular season and postseason, Gonzalez is 10-0 with a 1.94 ERA.
— Second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe (who is not to be confused with twin brother Luis Alexander Basabe, who was an outfielder in the DSL and GCL this year) went 3-for-8 with a double, triple and walk in the two contests. Basabe has an uncharacteristic streak of three straight games in which he’s produced extra-base hits, having collected two doubles and a triple in his most recent three contests — in the process nearly matching the four extra-base hits he had in 30 games in the regular season, when he hit .222/.403/.273. A startling 40 percent of his plate appearances ended without contact (either in a walk or strikeout), underscoring that there’s some work to be done with the approach of Basabe, who just turned 18 last week.
|09.03.14 at 8:50 am ET|
After a 9-4 win in the series opener, the Red Sox will face the Yankees on Wednesday night in the middle game of their three-game set at Yankee Stadium, with rookie Anthony Ranaudo taking the mound opposite Hiroki Kuroda.
Ranaudo (3-0, 4.50 ERA) came through with a quality start his last time out, Friday against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He struck out four and scattered five hits over six innings in the winning effort.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said after that game that he was impressed with Ranuado, who was making just his third-ever big league start.
“I thought tonight, of the three starts he’s made for us, this was probably the best overall mix of three pitches that he had — particularly a little bit more use of his changeup tonight,” Farrell said after the game. “A solid night all the way around.”
The rookie right-hander’s first start this season just happened to come against the Yankees. The outing got off to an inauspicious start when he walked leadoff natter Brett Gardner to begin the first inning, but Ranaudo worked out of the jam and finished the game going six strong innings, allowing just two runs. He recorded just two strikeouts, but Ranaudo effectively pitched to contact and worked out of major jams.
Outfielder Carlos Beltran seemed to be the only real thorn during Ranaudo’s side that evening, as the veteran outfielder clubbed both a solo home run and an RBI single during the Red Sox’s 4-3 victory. Other than that, Farrell said the rookie did well in his major league debut.
“I thought he did a good job keeping the game under control,” Farrell said after that game. “There were a number of innings where the leadoff hitter would get on base and [he] found a way to navigate through three walks to lead some innings off. I thought he threw the ball downhill well and kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part.”
|09.02.14 at 10:37 pm ET|
(For the final month of the regular season, ‘Closing Time’ will now be called ‘Why You Should Have Cared,’ looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)
The revisionist fiction is intriguing.
What if the Red Sox had been carried by their rookies rather than weighed down by them? What if Xander Bogaerts had remained the elite offensive performer he looked like through the first two months of the year rather than the least productive hitter in the majors over the next two-plus months?
That concept seemed tantalizing in the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night, when Bogaerts and Mookie Betts became the first pair of Red Sox rookies to homer in Yankee Stadium since 1952, and the first pair of 21-year-olds in half a century to go deep against New York in a single contest (and just the second duo — along with Jim Palmer and Curt Blefary of the Orioles in 1965 — to do it since at least 1914).
Bogaerts set one career high with four hits and matched another with two extra-base hits, going 4-for-5 with two singles, a double and homer. It was his first homer since July 29, and just his second three-hit game since the start of June.
Betts, meanwhile, had his first big league three-hit game, with singles to both left and right and a long homer to left-center that continued his dazzling performance as the everyday centerfielder with the Sox. In 15 games since his mid-August promotion for that role in the big leagues, he’s hitting .315/.413/.556 with three homers.
The leading role played by the Red Sox‘ young core may not have happened this year. But on Tuesday, Betts and Bogaerts offered a reminder of why the team will not turn its back on the potential upside of its young players going forward. The team likely will be more deliberate in how it integrates young players — and the signing of Rusney Castillo offers the team an avenue to allow Betts to spend more of next year in Triple-A — but the idea of a young, homegrown top-of-the-order hitter and a young, homegrown middle-of-the-order hitter remains a potential foundational strength going forward.
OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY’S GAME Read the rest of this entry »
|09.02.14 at 6:41 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Red Sox added a pair of players to their roster on Tuesday, with right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (the scheduled starter for Wednesday) and catcher Dan Butler joining Steven Wright. But at a time when teams can carry rosters of up to 40 players (as opposed to the standard 25) for the final month of the season, there was a notable omission in the group coming up from Pawtucket to the big leagues.
When Jackie Bradley Jr. was sent to Triple-A a couple of weeks ago, manager John Farrell said that his expectation was that the center fielder would be back in the majors at some point in September. That point has yet to arrive. And so, Farrell was asked, has anything altered with regards to the idea of bringing back Bradley?
“Nothing has changed in that way,” said Farrell.
Still, Bradley has been struggling in Pawtucket. In 14 games since being sent down, he’s hitting .212 with a .246 OBP and .273 slugging mark with three walks and 18 strikeouts. His ability to make some of the adjustments that the Sox hoped to see has been inconsistent.
“Jackie was well aware when we sat down and described what needs to be the focal point. I don’t know that has necessarily needs to be repeated right now. The reports have been mixed,” said Farrell. “There have been days as he’s executed between the lines as he’s been working on but it’s still a work in progress.”
|09.02.14 at 1:13 pm ET|
Rusney Castillo may have been the recognizable name in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League championship game. But there may come a day when he’s the footnote rather than the headliner.
After all, Castillo — who went 0-for-3 with a walk, two groundouts and a flyout — batted in front of Javier Guerra, an attention-grabbing shortstop who looks the part of a big league defender and whose unusual pop for his position was evident in the homer he smoked to right, his lone hit in a 1-for-4 day that also included a walk. Batting behind Guerra was the Sox’ top pure hitting prospect in years, Rafael Devers, who went 1-for-5 as the final note of a year that saw him lead both his DSL and GCL teams in homers at the age of 17. Devers was hitting in front of first-rounder Michael Chavis, who launched a two-run homer to left, a final display of what became a regular display of precocious extra-base power that started in August as an 18-year-old making his pro debut.
Behind Chavis was second baseman Victor Acosta, a slight player whose strong wrists allow him to generate unlikely pop. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, a 17-year-old with speed and athleticism as well as an approach that proved surprisingly advanced this year, permitting him to move from the DSL to the GCL, went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. Left fielder Trenton Kemp, an 18-year-old who was taken in the 15th round for his intriguing power/speed combination, went 2-for-5 to wrap up an 8-for-17 postseason that included a homer. The lineup was rounded out by a huge player with huge power potential in Josh Ockimey and an 18-year-old catcher (Devon Fisher) who helped navigate through a number of wins.
It will be years before some clarity is achieved with that group of prospects, before it is known whether Devers and Chavis and Guerra emerge as potential stars or regulars or what-happened-to’¦ busts. But for now, between a DSL team that is competing for a championship and a GCL team that won one with an 8-1 victory over the GCL Yankees on Monday, there’s burgeoning strength in the lower levels of the Red Sox system, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in years. There is now a very distinctive wave behind the current upper levels wave, with potential high-impact players such as Devers (a potential middle-of-the-order masher at third base), Guerra (who draws uniform raves from team personnel) and Chavis (potential middle-of-the-order power at second, third or even in left) leading the charge, and some outfielders with big upside like Yoan Aybar in the DSL and Basabe and Kemp in the GCL.
Castillo will make his mark in the big leagues this year. But in five or 10 years, it’s possible that he will prove something other than the most important player to have taken the field in the GCL Sox’ championship victory on Monday.
A brief look at the rest of the action in the Red Sox system:
|09.02.14 at 10:16 am ET|
Kelly (0-1, 3.86 ERA) still is searching for his first win in his sixth start since joining the Red Sox at the non-waiver trade deadline. His last time out, Wednesday against the Blue Jays, the right-hander allowed two runs and struck out four in six solid innings. He was removed from the game after 86 pitches because of shoulder concerns stemming from his five-inning start against the Mariners on Aug. 26.
The Red Sox held a one-run lead at the time of Kelly’s exit, but reliever Junichi Tazawa allowed two crucial runs to score in the seventh inning, costing the Red Sox the game.
“After he came out of the last game, we had every intention to hold his pitch count down in the 85 range. He pitched exceptional tonight,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Kelly after the game. “He was very good. He and David Ross worked well together. But we felt like in light of five days ago, we were going to hold him shorter than normal, and knowing we were going to have to match up through the bottom of the order, it didn’t work out the way it looked like we could match up.”
Tuesday’s start will be Kelly’s first-ever matchup against the Yankees.
Greene (4-1, 3.09 ERA) will be making his second start of the season against the Red Sox. The rookie, who spent over two months in the minor leagues this year, did not factor in the decision in his Aug. 2 start against Boston, a game the Yankees won 6-4. The 6-foot-4 right-hander went 4 2/3 innings that afternoon, allowing just three runs, all of which came in the second inning. Greene settled down enough after a rough start to the game to strike out five hitters before exiting.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was impressed with Greene’s perseverance during that outing.
“You’ve got to remember, he is a young kid and a lot of this is all new for him,” Girardi said after the game. “The most impressive thing for me was that he made the adjustment, and that’s what you want to see.”
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