|Why you should have cared about Thursday’s Red Sox game: Hope for Will Middlebrooks, Clay Buchholz||09.11.14 at 11:38 pm ET|
(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will 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.)
Stephen Drew wasn’t simply sent to the Yankees as some kind of Trojan Horse. The Red Sox recognized, even hoped, that he might help New York. But the team’s desire to see Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third down the stretch was so compelling that they were willing to aid an enemy with whom they had not dealt since 1997.
Bogaerts has rewarded that strategy. He has shown growing comfort both at shortstop and back in the batter’s box down the stretch, laying what both the player and the team hope will prove to be a springboard for greater success in 2015.
Middlebrooks has been another story. The third baseman entered Thursday hitting .173 with a .209 OBP and .218 slugging mark in 32 games since the trade of Drew, and marks of .182/.249/.260 on the year. He had gone 10 straight games without a multi-hit performance; he collected two hits (and no more than two hits) in five of his first 53 games.
Team officials still believe that the same player who made a splash in the big leagues in 2012 — delivering arguably the best rookie performance of any Red Sox position player since Dustin Pedroia — still is present, but is dormant inside the struggling third baseman. While belief in his potential remains present in the organization, however, the validation of that faith has been rare.
And so, nights like Thursday matter to those who seek evidence of Middlebrooks the producer. The 26-year-old went 2-for-4 with a double , a walk and an RBI. He managed to lay off breaking stuff off the plate away, manage his at-bats and hit the ball hard. The game marked his second of the year (first since May 1, when he had two hits and got hit by a pitch) in which he reached base three times.
It was the sort of contest that served as something of a reminder — in the same venue where Middlebrooks had one of his most dominant early-career performances, slamming homers down both lines and nearly driving a ball out to center near the start of his big league career in 2012 — from a player who has plenty to prove down the stretch in order to win a roster spot in 2015.
Middlebrooks and the Sox did some spoiling, beating the AL Central-leading Royals, 6-3.
OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT THURSDAY’S GAME Read the rest of this entry »
|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.”
|Kevin Millar on MFB: ‘I don’t think you give up on a Will Middlebrooks’||09.05.14 at 12:29 pm ET|
MLB Network’s Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the Red Sox following Thursday’s disappointing loss to the Yankees. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
In Thursday’s game, Sox closer Koji Uehara continued to struggle, allowing a pair of solo home runs in the ninth inning as New York walked off with a 5-4 decision. There has been discussion that the team might shut down Uehara and let him rest up for next season.
“There’s nothing to lose now,” Millar said. “It’s kind of an odd season, guys, let’s get it straight. From last place, first place, last place. You’ve got things to address, go ahead and address them. He’s given up big-time home runs this year; last year he was invincible. It’s pretty funny how the years are different. Everything went right last year and now he’s in the scuffle mode. I’m a big fan of Koji, but he’s had a tough time getting some outs late in the game.”
The Red Sox have expressed an interested in having Will Middlebrooks play winter league in order to be better prepared for next season. It’s not clear that Middlebrooks is on board with that idea, but Millar supports it.
“He’s still got to look in the mirror and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got to get something done. I’ve got to get something right.’ Whether that’s your swing, whether that’s your defense, whatever you’ve got to work on,” Millar said. “I think winter ball’s great. I played it a lot. I played it everywhere but Venezuela. It gives you the chance to basically get that confidence back. Because you see the talent, you see the ceiling. This is a guy, if he hits 25-30 home runs at some point in his career it wouldn’t shock you. But he hasn’t produced. He produced his first three, four months up in the big leagues, and got everybody fired up. But it’s been a struggle-bunny since. So I think winter ball’s a great call.”
Added Millar: “I don’t think you give up on a Will Middlebrooks. I like the size, I like the talent I see. ‘¦ I don’t think you give up on a kid, because corner guys, right-handed power right now, aren’t out there. Will hasn’t shown a whole lot of consistency at this level, but you also understand if something clicks he can become a guy that’s above average to a star. And it wouldn’t shock you, would it? We’ve seen a little bit of it.”
There has been some speculation that the Red Sox might considering trading Dustin Pedroia as part of their move to a younger lineup.
“No, you don’t trade Dustin Pedroia. You don’t even mention trading Dustin Pedroia,” Millar said, adding: “I’m not saying he’s untouchable, but he’s your makeup of the club. So if he has an off year this year, yeah, OK, now we’re going to trade Dustin Pedroia? He’s the only makeup and the grit and everything about the Red Sox.”
For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|Will Middlebrooks on winter ball decision: ‘It’s not like I’m going against [the Red Sox]‘||at 8:15 am ET|
NEW YORK — Ultimately, Will Middlebrooks and the Red Sox want the same thing. Both the player and his team want to see the soon-to-be-26-year-old put in the best possible position to succeed on the field in 2015. Both parties want Middlebrooks to shed the desperate struggles that, after Thursday’s 0-for-3 performance that included a pair of strikeouts, see the third baseman hitting .180 with a .247 OBP and .263 slugging mark.
Middlebrooks does not shy from the fact that his year has been dreadful, that he has failed to live up to the standards that he expects from himself. The team wants him to be better. He wants to be better.
“I know I’m a good player. When I’m healthy — no excuses — but when I’m healthy, I know the type of player I am. I know the impact I can make in the game,” said Middlebrooks. “That’s not cockiness. I just know the player I am. I know the tools I have. I know what I can do. I’ve done it. That adds to the frustration when things aren’t going well, because I know the player I am. It’s hard not to be able to show it.”
Both Middlebrooks and the Sox believe that he’s capable of moving beyond his two seasons of offensive futility, and they’re motivated to make that happen. But despite that common goal, the two are working to achieve consensus on the best means of achieving it.
The Sox believe that, more than anything, after missing so much time over the last two years due to four stints on the disabled list (with just 48 games in the big leagues this year, and 29 more in the minors), Middlebrooks needs baseball repetitions, to experience consistent time on the field to improve his pitch recognition and return to being the confident hitter he was in his impressive 2012 rookie campaign. Moreover, the Sox need to see Middlebrooks produce at a high level on a sustained basis if they are to commit to giving him a meaningful role in the big leagues for next season.
Middlebrooks doesn’t disagree with the value of repetitions or with the idea that he needs to demonstrate production to earn a big league job for next year. But given the health woes he’s experienced, he feels that the most important thing he can do to ensure his productivity in future years is to use the offseason to get into tremendous shape to avoid the kinds of physical setbacks that have prevented him from gaining the consistent play that he and the Sox both want him to get.
And so, for now, Middlebrooks is somewhat hesitant about the team’s stated desire (articulated in recent days by manager John Farrell, GM Ben Cherington and assistant GM Mike Hazen) for him to play in winter ball. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility, but he’s hoping to get more information in order to make the decision about what form his preparations for 2015 should take.
“It’s not like I’m going against them. It’s not like a butting of heads. It’s not like that at all,” said Middlebrooks. “They understand where I’m coming from and I understand where they’re coming from. … There hasn’t been a whole lot of conversation about it yet, because we’re still playing ball. We’re still doing this daily. We haven’t really had a chance to sit down and talk about it. There will be more discussions about it. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen on D&C: ‘We know we have some redundancies in some areas,’ including crowded outfield||09.04.14 at 9:47 am ET|
Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the future of the team and other news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Red Sox recently signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, but Mookie Betts has shown promise with his play in center field of late. That’s led to questions about what the outfield will look like next season.
“We have a long offseason to go. ‘¦ I think both Castillo and Betts, I see them on the team. What position they’re playing, who’s in the lineup, how it all shakes out, we have a long way to go in this offseason,” Hazen said.
“I think what we’ve tried to do as we’ve moved through the trading deadline and into the rest of the regular season was to acquire or amass as many really good major league players as we could. We know we have some redundancies in some areas, we have some holes in other areas that need to be plugged. And there’s two ways we’re going to plug those holes. We’re going to do it with money in the free agent market, and we’re going to be able to do it via trade, having good major league players, not just minor league players to trade. We may trade some minor league guys as well, but having those good, established major league hitters — a lot of these guys that have power, which is a commodity in the game, set us up fairly well in a strong position at least.
“I know trades are tough to pull off no matter what you’re dealing with because you need two to tango on this. But we’re going to be in a pretty good position we think going into the offseason given the assets and the players that we have both on the roster and in the minor leagues, and the financial resources that we have coming off the books currently to be able to fill the holes that we need to fill.”
|Winter ball a possibility for Will Middlebrooks: ‘He’s got to find himself as a major league hitter’||09.03.14 at 6:42 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The 2014 season for Will Middlebrooks has been one to forget. The 25-year-old had perhaps his worst game of the challenging season on Tuesday, when he went 0-for-5 while matching a career-high with four strikeouts, all looking at sliders, and he also committed an error. His average has plummeted to .183 with a .251 OBP and .268 slugging mark; he’s striking out 30 percent of the time.
“I think there’s been times when he’s trying to think along with a given pitcher and anticipating a certain kind of pitch and a certain location and it’s not quite there. At times, that might be the reason why he’s not pulled the trigger on some pitches,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “We came off a series in Tampa where I thought he swung the bat very well with some authority back through the middle of the field, certainly to right-center field as well. But the early work, the work routine, that all remains consistent. It’s a matter of doing it in-game.”
Time to do so during the regular season is running out quickly for Middlebrooks, who has been limited by two stints on the DL to just 47 big league games (and 29 more at the minor league level). As such, the Red Sox have started conversations with the third baseman about the possibility of playing winter ball somewhere.
“It would be beneficial, I think, to make up for some at-bats that might not have been there. He did get some regular at-bats while he was on a rehab assignment. But yeah, there have been a number of at-bats missed here this year,” said Farrell. “There’s been a conversation had, and yet, trying to work through that right now.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Sleeping with the enemy: Red Sox send Stephen Drew to Yankees for Kelly Johnson||07.31.14 at 3:55 pm ET|
According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have traded shortstop Stephen Drew to the Yankees in exchange for Kelly Johnson. The deal is most stunning for the participants — the Red Sox and Yankees hadn’t consummated a trade since 1997, when the team acquired Tony Armas Jr. in exchange for Mike Stanley — with Armas, a pitcher, getting dealt that offseason to the Montreal Expos as the second piece in a deal for Pedro Martinez.
Johnson, 32, is hitting .219/.304/.373 in 77 games this year while playing first, second, third and both outfield corners. He is playing on a one-year, $3 million deal.
Drew, playing on a prorated one-year, $14.1 million deal, is hitting .176/.255/.328 in 39 games, and has seen a considerable offensive upswing in his last 14 games, hitting .255/.386/.489.
The departure of Drew will clear the way for the Sox to have Xander Bogaerts play shortstop and to have Will Middlebrooks play third base.
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