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Ken Rosenthal on D&C: ‘It is time for some of this to start kicking in’ for Red Sox

05.23.14 at 12:30 pm ET
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Fox Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday to discuss the struggles of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal

The Red Sox dropped their seventh straight game on Thursday afternoon with a 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays to fall to six games below .500. Rosenthal is only partly surprised by the way the Sox have performed more than a quarter of the way through the season, one year removed from a World Series championship.

“I’€™m kind of split on this. On one hand, yes, I’€™m puzzled. I thought that they would be really good because of the talent they had coming back, even with some of the guys they lost,” Rosenthal said. “On the other hand, when you look at what they’ve tried to accomplish, mixing in three 25-and-under guys in the lineup — although they haven’€™t been in the lineup at the same time for the most part — it’€™s not surprising. And it’€™s not surprising also that a year after having one good thing after another happen that baseball is taking over and things aren’t so smooth and easy.”

Despite the Red Sox playing so many young players, Rosenthal said much of the responsibility still falls upon underperforming veterans such as Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. Pedroia is hitting .277 with a .398 slugging percentage while Napoli has just five home runs so far this season.

“There is — with teams that have been successful the year before or even a number of years in a row — this idea that you can turn it on, the numbers will be there at the end and everything will be all right,” Rosenthal said. “Sometimes it’€™s not all right, and sometimes guys just have off years for whatever reason, but Napoli, Pedroia, those guys on the team, those veteran players, you do have to have faith that they’€™re going to hit and have confidence that they’€™re going to play to their track record.

“At the same time, we’€™re a quarter of the season in now. A little bit more actually. It is time for some of this to start kicking in. And of course in this most recent homestand it has not kicked in at all.”

Given the Red Sox’ wealth of prospects and the unlikelihood that they would be willing to part ways with these young players, Rosenthal doesn’t see the Sox pursuing a big bat to fix their woes at the plate.

“They’€™re pretty much locked in with what they do,” he said. “They’€™re not getting a new second baseman, they’€™re not getting a new first baseman. Catching is what it is for now. They’ve got all these great prospects calling, but they’€™re not ready yet. So I don’€™t think there is a fix — a trade, for instance, for a big hitter. Number one, there aren’t that many big hitters out there in this PED-free era we’€™re in — and I say PED-free in quotes. And two, to expend what you’€™d have to expend to get that player, I’€™m not sure the Red Sox want to do that because right now they’re in a situation where they are protective of what they have.

“They have depth in young talent all over the place, we know that; left side of the infield, catching, pitching to some extent. But their idea is to keep this going, and I’€™m not sure you keep it going by trading for a big-money hitter and expending prospects to do it with one or two years left on the guy’€™s contract.”

One move the Sox did make recently was the signing of shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew’s return to the organization came shortly after Will Middlebrooks went on the disabled list, but Rosenthal isn’t so sure that bringing Drew back was a knee-jerk reaction to Middlebrooks’s injury.

“This whole question was brewing starting in the offseason, through spring training and into the season,” he said. “And while Middlebrooks might’ve been the trigger, this was an issue that was going to be addressed one way or another if [Xander Bogaerts] had not come around. And he was starting to come around defensively, and offensively he’€™s been pretty good the whole year.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On Clay Buchholz‘s disastrous pitching this season: “Buchholz, from everything I hear and see and read, is a mystery. He does not appear to be hurt, but he does not have what he once did; that amazing repertoire that made him so effective and fun to watch for that matter. That’€™s another thing they have to get corrected.”

On whether the Sox will need to address their pitching situation: “It’€™s probably too early to answer that, but they always monitor everything. Depending on where they are, pitching might become a need and in some ways might be more readily available than offense will be just because of the nature of where the game is right now. But they have [Brandon Workman], they have [Allen Webster], they have [Rubby De La Rosa], all these guys they keep talking about that I would imagine they will at least be able to give an opportunity to them at some point as well. We’€™ll see that now with [Felix Doubront] going down.”

On why the Red Sox never pursued Nelson Cruz: “My answer to that is I don’€™t know. I guess to some degree he was a fit. Some people certainly see him as more of a DH and the Sox have [Jonny Gomes] and [Daniel Nava] in left field. But, at the same time, this looks like a player that a lot of people underestimated, that was someone that was feared because of what had happened with Biogenesis. The price was not to the liking of a lot of teams early on, and he’€™s not that offensive-defensive mixture that most teams seek now. … He’s a guy that clearly has shown that whatever was going on with him, assuming that nothing is going on now, he is back to the player that we thought he should be.”

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