|Ben Cherington, John Farrell take stock of a season gone awry, and where the Red Sox go from here||09.29.14 at 3:52 pm ET|
On the one hand, Ben Cherington is the architect of a World Series winner. On the other hand, he’s steered the team to a pair of last-place finishes that have bookended that triumph.
Good luck reconciling those drastically different conclusions to the three years of Cherington’s GM tenure. Of course, Cherington is not interested in reconciling those finishes. He’s interested in avoiding further repetitions of seasons like 2012 and 2014. The fact that he has not represents a failure of sorts.
“It’s hard. It’s been hard on us, the extreme outcomes. Obviously I like the upside, but the downside is hard to deal with, painful for everyone, and it’s not at all what we want to be. It’s not at all what I’ve said we want to be in the past,” said Cherington. “We want to build something that’s got a chance to sustain and be good every year. I don’t think — you can’t plan on a World Series every year, but we ought to be planning on winning teams and contending teams and teams that are playing meaningful games in September and getting into October more often than not, so obviously, based on the results of the last three years, we haven’t accomplished that yet.
“We need to figure that out and find a way to do that. I still believe that we will,” he continued. “I believe that there are too many strengths in the organization not to do that, but we have to sort of, we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves honestly what we can do to make sure that happens. That will be a big part of the offseason and moving forward. It’s a very competitive landscape, I think, in baseball. I think the talent is more evenly distributed than it was 15, 20 years ago. So we’re always going to need talent. We’re going to need good players. We’re going to need to construct the roster well. And then we also need to look for every other possible area of competitive advantage. If we do well enough in all of those areas, it will lead to what we want. We haven’t gotten there yet.”
The struggles of the team’s young position players — most notably, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. — played a meaningful role in contributing to that volatility (though it would be a mistake to point solely to that group, given the lackluster production that came from elsewhere).
Did the Sox rely too heavily on prospects? Cherington answered that question by offering context for how the team ended up with three young position players. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell: Injuries not solely responsible for Will Middlebrooks’ struggles||09.24.14 at 6:59 pm ET|
Will Middlebrooks, who was scratched just prior to the start of Tuesday’s game against the Rays, is once again out of the lineup on Wednesday due to soreness in his left wrist. Manager John Farrell suggested that the third baseman is “day to day at this point,” but suggested that the team is hopeful that his season is not over.
“We’re going to continue to press and push to get him on the field as much as possible in these final five days even though one of them is today and won’t be on the field,” said Farrell. Tomorrow, through the weekend, we need to get him on the field as much as possible.”
At a time when there will be just four games beyond Wednesday’s contest, and with Middlebrooks having little remaining opportunity to improve his dreadful season stat line of a .191 average, .256 OBP and .265 slugging mark, Farrell was asked to explain the urgency he expressed for an opportunity to evaluate the 26-year-old further this year.
“More than anything, if a player is capable, we’re not just wanting to shut someone down,” Farrell said. “That’s not a precedent that we want to set or enable, to be honest with you.”
It has been a year in which Middlebrooks rarely has played at full health. He spent time on the DL with a calf injury. His current wrist sprain is believed to be related to when he got hit by a pitch in May. He lost months to a finger that was fractured by the line drive. The result has been fitful playing time at the big league level, which in turn has contributed to some of Middlebrooks’ struggles to remain in a sustained offensive groove.
That said, Farrell said that it would be a mistake to view Middlebrooks’ struggles as simply the product of injuries. He’s been healthy enough to play. His limited production — particularly the absence of his characteristic home run power (he has hit just two homers in 63 games this year) — is not entirely a function of health, in Farrell’s view.
“I don’t think he’s been limited any different than other players who deal with nagging ailments over the course of a full season. There’s been times when he’s been unavailable. To say it’s to the extent that he can’t go or can’t play, we’re not at that point,” said Farrell. “He’s missed time over the past couple of years as we know. The inconsistent playing time has had some effect. To say that there’s something existing here, sure, he’s banged up a little bit. Is that the sole reason why the power numbers have dropped? I can’t say that it is.”
|John Farrell on MFB: ‘Probably likely’ Dustin Pedroia inactive for remainder of season||09.10.14 at 11:01 am ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, making his weekly WEEI appearance Wednesday, told Middays with MFB that Dustin Pedroia is “probably likely” to miss the rest of the season due to an injury to his left hand/wrist. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Pedroia, in the midst of a subpar offensive season (.278/.337/.376), had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed inflammation in the wrist. The 30-year-old was scheduled to meet with team representatives Wednesday to determine a course of action.
“Nothing has been arranged as far as surgery,” Farrell said. “Information is still being gathered. There’s not been a final, like I said, target date or decision in this way. It’s pointing towards him having the procedure done. So, whether or not he remains inactive — it’s probably likely he is inactive the rest of the way.
This injury is the latest in a series of issues with Pedroia’s hands. He had surgery on his left thumb last offseason.
“Let’s face it, he’s had a number of collisions, headfirst slides, a number of things that have affected the hands, and he’s dealing with it in the left hand right now,” Farrell said. “We look at it like, if this procedure is needed, which, the initial reports — and let’s face it, surgery is always something you have to be concerned with, but … the severity of it is not like a high-risk situation with him.
“So, we look at it like if there’s a chance to get an additional two weeks of recovery time so he can get into some strength training throughout the winter and go through a normal offseason workout program as he gets into later November and beyond, that’s probably the avenue chosen here.
“What Dustin means to us is obvious. This is the heartbeat of our team, and we’ve got to get him back to 100 percent as soon as we can.”
|Brandon Workman’s latest struggle raises questions about rotation future||08.23.14 at 11:43 pm ET|
Although his time in the majors has been brief, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman already has seen his career marked by two vastly different stretches of play.
Through his first eight big league starts, Workman looked like he belonged in the Red Sox rotation, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.91 ERA. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to make eight straight starts of five or more innings and three or fewer runs allowed since World War II.
Unfortunately for the 6-foot-5 righty, the last eight outings have been a far cry from his stellar debut, with an 0-8 record and a 6.75 ERA bloating his career numbers during the second half of the 2014 season. He now has achieved history of another sort, becoming the first Sox pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1929 to absorb a loss in eight or more consecutive appearances.
Workman’s latest outing fit his current trend of ineffectiveness, as the 26-year-old was torched for 10 hits and seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Saturday in what eventually resulted in a 7-3 Red Sox defeat.
Despite his discouraging box score, Workman began the game on a good foot, holding Seattle scoreless through the first three innings, including a 1-2-3 inning in the third.
“It was a quick inning,”Workman said. “I threw strikes, made some good pitches, got ground balls. … I didn’t execute like that in the fourth.”
|Koji Uehara suffers through worse relief outing of career||at 12:50 am ET|
What no one really expected was the culprit behind the collapse.
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara entered the ninth as perhaps the closest thing that Boston has had to a sure bet this year, compiling a 1.53 ERA and .080 WHIP with 26 saves on the season.
Uehara seemed to be in prime position to put Seattle away, forcing Endy Chavez into an 1-2 count with two outs and Logan Morrison on first. Chavez would eventually battle back and work the walk to put runners on first and second.
Pinch hitter Chris Denorfia would then single on a soft line drive to right field to load the bases for Austin Jackson, who doubled on a sharp line drive to left that drove in two, cutting Boston’s lead to just one run. Seattle quickly grabbed their first lead of the night in the next at-bat, as Dustin Ackley forced a bloop single into left field between shortstop Brock Holt and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, driving in two more runs to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead.
Robinson Cano would tack on an additional run with an RBI single before Red Sox manager John Farrell emerged from the dugout to take the ball away from Uehara - but the damage was already irrevocably done. Uehara was charged with five hits and five earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning as the Red Sox fell to the Mariners, 5-3.
“To me, the key at-bat in the ninth inning was the Chavez walk,” Farrell said after the game. “We’ve got two outs, a man at first base and a 1-2 count, and he battles his way back into the count and works out a walk and then the 0-2 pitch to Denorfia, he pushes a base hit to right field, 0-2 pitch to Jackson for the double and unfortunately, Ackley finds kind of the Bermuda Triangle out there to drive in the two go-ahead runs. Maybe a lack of finish to Koji’s splitter was the difference tonight.”
Friday night made for one of Uehara’s worst outings in his MLB career. It was the most runs that the 39-year-old has allowed in an outing since surrendering six runs with the Orioles during a start against the Rays on May 5, 2009.
|John Farrell on Rusney Castillo: ‘It’s an exciting, athletic player, by all accounts’||08.22.14 at 7:42 pm ET|
Rather, it was a move slated for next season and beyond.
According to multiple sources, Boston is closing in on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo that will last until the 2020 season.
“Nothing other than what I think everyone has read,” Farrell said. “I’m aware of the reports. There are still some administrative things that he would have to go through before anything is announced officially, so until that time, I’m kind of like everyone else.”
Once the deal is made official, Castillo’s contract will stand as the largest ever given to a Cuban defector, surpassing the six-year, $68 million deal given to slugger Jose Abreu last offseason by the White Sox.
Standing at 5-foot-9, Castillo has enticed scouts all across baseball with his great speed, excellent defense and the potential to be an impact player with his bat. Speaking with WEEI.com earlier this month, Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes compared Castillo to Dodgers All-Star Yasiel Puig.
“Above-average speed,” Farrell said of Castillo. “He can play in center field or right field. What kind of power, what kind of average? Obviously, our scouts liked him enough. If the reports are true, that’s a significant investment. It’s an exciting, athletic player, by all accounts.”
While shelling out over $70 million dollars to a player that has yet to play a game at any professional level in the United States might be seen as a risky move by some, Farrell noted that Cuban players such as Cespedes, Puig, and Abreu have been able to adjust to playing in the big leagues in a short amount of time, making Castillo’s new contract seem more like a formality than a risk.
“That’s the one thing that stands out more than anything,” Farrell said. “When you look at Yoenis’ performance right away in Oakland, Abreu in Chicago, hopefully the same holds true for every other player that comes over. I think when you look at how many games they play on the international stage and the talent in which they play against, just by nature, they’re seemingly a very strong group physically and they’re able to transition and handle the wear and tear of a long season.”
|John Farrell: Surgery not ruled out for Allen Craig’s foot||08.21.14 at 5:35 pm ET|
Allen Craig was supposed to be getting his at-bats in Pawtucket Thursday night.
However, injuries and other circumstances have opened up a need. So instead, he’ll be the designated hitter in his second-career game with the Red Sox.
The outfielder was scheduled to rehab in Pawtucket at DH Monday and play right field Wednesday and Thursday, but with Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli battling injuries and David Ortiz on a scheduled off day, Red Sox manager John Farrell said it would be just as valuable to give Craig those at-bats with the major league club.
Craig played right field and went 1-for-3 with a two-run single for Pawtucket Wednesday night. Farrell said Craig played with “no hesitations” over his two games with the Triple-A club.
“Went first to second on a base hit and overthrow after a couple RBIs, wasn’t too challenged in right field with many opportunities, but came out of it physically fine with some change in direction to his running and some acceleration to what would be full speed,” Farrell said. “So he’s passed at least two days of the physical test.”
That, at least, is the case with the ankle injury that Craig suffered in his Red Sox debut on Aug. 1, when he tweaked his foot while crossing first base. Still, questions remain about another injury with his foot.
Craig suffered a Lisfranc injury last September that ended his 2013 regular season and kept him out for the early part of the Cardinals’ World Series run. St. Louis and Craig opted to let the injury heal naturally with rest rather than surgery.
“We do know this: the injury he had last year was something that was given rest and recovery rather than a repair, probably as much to do with their stretch and postseason run. I guess it’s debatable whether a repair was needed or recommended, but they chose a conservative path,” said Farrell. “I can’t say, ‘Is there still some involvement?’ That is above me. He turned the ankle and foot here on the base, so what he was feeling wasn’t a result of the actual previous injury. But does the previous injury still give some instability? That’s, again, debatable.” Read the rest of this entry »
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