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Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen: Potential bullpen deals got into ‘danger zone'; what Will Middlebrooks must work on; Sox won’t make ‘hasty decisions’ on Xander Bogaerts

08.01.13 at 4:07 pm ET
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Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, in an appearance on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show, suggested that a combination of factors convinced the team that a bullpen move in the days and hours immediately preceding the July 31 trade deadline was unnecessary. First, Hazen noted that the team did make a trade in July to add left-hander Matt Thornton. Beyond that, Hazen pointed to the emergence of left-hander Drake Britton and the promise of adding right-hander Brandon Workman to the bullpen (with the addition of Jake Peavy to round out the rotation) as factors that played into the team’s comfort level in the bullpen.

Beyond that, Hazen noted that the supply/demand bullpen dynamic was wildly unfavorable, with trade proposals for relief help pointing to a potential “danger zone” in which a team was at risk of giving up a significant prospect in exchange for a couple months of a middle reliever. (Cases such as Koji Uehara for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter or Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell or Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe come to mind — though it’s worth noting that all of those pitchers had multiple years of team control prior to their free agency.)

“We looked at all those guys. We looked at the universe of relief pitching. As you saw, there weren’t a lot of relievers that got traded. There are a lot of teams on the fringes of contention to out of contention who held onto their relievers. I don’t think you’ve seen that as much in the past. We saw that this year, where some of those guys got held. Not only did they not come to us, they didn’t go somewhere else,” said Hazen. “What happens in that situation is, your asking price is somewhat out of reach because it’s not something that you necessarily want to do, getting a rental reliever where you’re overpaying significantly. Look, we’ll trade prospects, but those are some of those trades where you can get into the danger zone of getting two months of a seventh-inning reliever for a guy who shows up and pitches for another team for the next six years. Those are the types of moves you don’t like to watch for the next six years.”

To listen to the complete interview, click here. Here are some additional highlights:

On what the team wants Will Middlebrooks to work on in Triple-A:

“It’s the consistency of the approach,” said Hazen. “We saw him having different at-bats that he had last year. … We saw the streaks of lack of success starting to grow. That’s not a good sign.

“We needed to get him back to Triple-A to work on the consistency of the approach, which means you’re grinding out every single at-bat,” he added. “He needs to get back to doing some of those things. He has. Not dominating down there. We would like to get him on a little bit of a run. But, he’s gone back and focusing on those things and hearing some of what we’re stressing.”

On whether Middlebrooks might work out at first base:

“He worked out a little bit when we were in Baltimore with the big league club,” said Hazen. “We’ll look to, probably at some point, add that level of versatility for Will. I’m sure he’d be plenty capable to go out into a major league game and play that position. … [But] where we’re stressing the offensive approach, we don’t want to muddy the waters. We want him to focus on as few things as possible.”

On the decision about whether to promote Xander Bogaerts:

“I think he’s definitely putting himself in the conversation of guys we’ll consider,” said Hazen. “He’s performed over the last month exceptionally.

“I think there’s a little bit of a difference when you’re talking about this type of player than when you’re talking about anyone who’s older with more experience, who’s gotten more minor league innings, at-bats under their belt,” he continued. “I think we need to be a little bit more sure when we do that. I think a lot of times, yeah, there’s a performance level, when there’s someone hitting that performance level in Triple-A, and we’re saying to ourselves, ‘This guy’s performing the best. He deserves to come up here and take a shot at showing us what he can do.’ I think [Brock] Holt did that. I think Steven Wright has done that at various stages. Allen Webster has done that at various stages down at Triple-A. And we’ll react accordingly. …

“I think we need to be more sure about his place up here. … We don’t know how he’s going to handle it. We don’t know. We believe in the kid’s makeup. We know he’s a very talented player. But you don’t know when they first come up here. Dustin Pedroia is one of the most talented players any of us have seen in a long time. What did he do the first time he was up here? Because it’s not easy. As talented as they are, it’s not easy. … You can’t just say the guy is going to come up here and do what he was doing in Triple-A. We’re factoring in all those things.

“Bogaerts is definitely putting himself in the conversation,” Hazen concluded. “We’re not going to make any hasty decisions on a month’s worth of performances.”

Read More: Will Middlebrooks, xander bogaerts,
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