Ben Cherington on D&C: Decision to call up Will Middlebrooks over Xander Bogaerts ‘easier than perhaps the public narrative would make it seem’
|08.15.13 at 9:37 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning to talk about Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and some of the surprise performers for the Red Sox as of late.
There has been a lot of buzz around the possibility that Bogaerts, who has an .853 OPS in 56 games with triple-A Pawtucket, could be called up to the majors within the next few weeks. Cherington was noncommittal over when Bogaerts would finally make it to Boston.
“We will see,” Cherington said. “I understand why there is so much talk about Xander because he is a really good young player, he is in Triple-A. It almost seems like at times there is more talk about him and less about the guys that are actually on the team and we have won a lot of games with the guys that are actually on the team. We are excited that he has gotten off to doing what he is doing at Triple-A. The rule this time of year is if there are ways to make us a little better and help us win games — every game is important — then we will try to find a way we can do that.
“They have got to have a role. Right now every one of our position players [has] a fairly distinct role and generally everyone is doing pretty well in that role. There has got to be a role but certainly it is a good feeling to have a guy down there. If there was a need in the infield at shortstop or third base — if something happened to Stephen [Drew] or Will — I’m sure we would have no hesitation going to him.”
When Middlebrooks was called up to take over third base on Aug. 10, it was speculated that Cherington had to make a tough decision between Middlebrooks and Bogaerts to get the call-up. However, Cherington said that the decision was not as tough as many thought.
“The decision internally was really easier than perhaps the public narrative would make it seem,” Cherington said. “We looked at a number of issues and ultimately felt like — it is really based a lot on our Triple-A staff and our Triple-A manager who has been with those guys. We have a guy in Middlebrooks who has done it in the big leagues, was a really good player last year and hit a speed bump this year as many, many good young players do. He had to go back to Triple-A to work on some things and he did. When it came time to make a decision and, ‘Let’s try to give someone else a shot at third base,’ it was pretty clear in everyone’s mind that he was the right guy to go to. It wasn’t anything against Xander. We love [Bogaerts] and he is going to be a really good player, but at that particular time it was pretty clear that Will was the right choice.”
The Red Sox are currently atop the American League East thanks to the surprise effectiveness of several newcomers, such as Shane Victorino, Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes. However, perhaps the biggest surprise of the lot has been Koji Uehara, who has a 1.32 ERA and 12 saves this season.
“We obviously hoped and thought that we were getting a really good relief pitcher when we signed him because he has been that,” Cherington said. “When he came to the United States, he signed with Baltimore as a starter, but once he moved to the ‘pen with Baltimore and then subsequently went to Texas, he has been really good ever since he went to the bullpen. He was really good in Japan for a long time. He was sort of considered the Japanese Greg Maddux because of his ability to locate the ball and change speeds. This guy has had a reputation for a long, long time and he has carved out a niche in the bullpen in the United States. That said, he has gone past what we were hoping for. You never want to take anything for granted in baseball because as you guys know, that comes back to get you right away. We won’t take anything for granted, but it is sure a good feeling when he walks off the mound.”
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