Writing this on a rainy Thursday before a scheduled doubleheader with the Tampa Bays. This week I noticed a lot of questions about Xander Bogaerts and his future at shortstop.
As I answer in one of the questions, I think his future is at third base, while I could see Will Middlebrooks as a left fielder.
The Red Sox have a great luxury to have very good infield positional players, including Bogaerts, Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero, and Mookie Betts to consider over the next couple of years. Dustin Pedroia is here for several years, so Betts likely needs a position change in the next year, while tough decisions are going to have to be made on the rest of them.
Marrero is the best fielder at shortstop. Cecchini has defensive issues and we’re not sure if Bogaerts is the long-term shortstop or best suited for third, first or the outfield.
But, we also have to deal with the here and now.
The Red Sox had a poor 13-14 April, but as I write, they seem to be trending upward. The biggest thing is that they have a healthy (albeit not yet an effective) starting rotation. And that is as important to winning long-term as anything in the AL East.
Here’s the mailbag:
The Boston sports media seem to be concerned about the lack of a leadoff hitter. I am more concerned about the lack of RBI production and spotty defense. What are your thoughts?
Defense should be a huge concern. Stephen Drew made things air tight up the middle last season. That’s not the case now. It seems over the last dozen games or so, they’re hitting better with RISP.
Do you think Xander Bogaerts is better suited to play third base over shortstop? I know this would create a logjam with Middlebrooks and possibly Cecchini as trade material.
John, Waterville, Maine
I personally think third base. But that’s just me. Red Sox obviously don’t feel that way at the moment. But his range is limited.
With pitching help as close as Pawtucket and with the velocity and durability of Clay Buchholz in question, do you think the Sox could, or even want to, package him with one or more other players/prospects for an outfielder with power, such as Giancarlo Stanton?
Darrell, Sugarcreek, Ohio
Not sure why the Marlins would do that. The Marlins have a lot of pitching prospects, but fewer positional prospects. So not sure Buchholz, who makes about $8 million, would be a guy they would be targeting.
Do you think Bogaerts’ fielding is hurting the Red Sox? How long do you think they’ll wait for that to turn around? Do they have other options?
Anne, Groton, Conn.
In some games his fielding has hurt them and in some games the errors have occurred at inconsequential times. There’s no “waiting for him.” He’s here for good unless he falls off the map offensively, which doesn’t appear to be the case.
Why is Felix Doubront still with the Red Sox. He is probably the worst pitcher on this planet.
Bob, Sarasota, Fla.
Oh, I’ve seen a lot worse. Doubront is actually a very good pitcher, just inconsistent. He goes through his bad spells and then flips the switch and he goes on good runs, as he did last season. It’s frustrating to all because he has great ability and potential.
Do the Sox have the pitching depth in the bullpen to win the AL East as well as AL pennant? Can Jackie Bradley Jr. be a consistent .280 hitter and provide some of the base running pressure of Ellsbury?
Bob, New Providence, NJ
The Red Sox have more pitching depth than any team in the division so they’ll be in the hunt all the way because of that. As for Bradley, not sure about .280. When he hits, it’s because pitchers are stupid and throw him fastballs. He can hit those.
How long to you think the Red Sox management will stay with Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox’ starting pitching ranks somewhere 25th and 29th. Pitching and defense will win you games. Right now the Red Sox do not have either.
Sam, The Villages, Fla.
Indefinitely. No plans to replace either one.
I haven’t heard anything about Daniel Nava since he was sent down to Pawtucket. Just wondering if he’s doing any better and will he go back to Boston or are they thinking of trading him?
Judy, Bemidji, Minn.
He started out well at Pawtucket (6-for-18), so he’s working his way back. No room for him now unless someone gets hurt. He may be there for a while. Could always be trade bait.
I often hear the broadcasters refer to the right-field pole as “The Pesky Pole,” but I never hear them call the pole in left field “The Fisk Pole.” Why?
Loretta, Rocky Hill, Conn.
Beats me. I don’t refer to it as that either. Seems like they think naming one pole is enough.
What are your thoughts on batting Xander Bogaerts leadoff? Could move Dustin Pedroia back to the three-spot and slide David Ortiz and Mike Napoli down a spot. Xander has shown good patience at the plate and has some speed.
Chet, Westford, Vt.
Not a bad idea, but I think as a rookie he already has the pressure of people focusing on his defense. You stick him leadoff and now, suddenly, there’s more focus on him. Maybe a little too much pressure there.
Do you think that the Red Sox should go get a left fielder on the trade market? I think that Grady Sizemore is a disappointment, and I don’t know why the Sox are in love with Jonny Gomes? Do they think Daniel Nava will be back with the Red Sox?
Heather, Rutland, Vt.
Well, Gomes is an intangible player. You don’t measure his success based on the overall numbers, but he hit very well with RISP last season and had huge hits. I’m not sure we know what Sizemore is evolving into. Is he just a part time player? A week or two ago I would have said they should seek another outfielder. Now they seem to be on an upswing with Shane Victorino back, so I’m in wait and see mode. Too early to make a trade.
Looks like the infield with Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Middlebrooks is set for a while, but what will the Red Sox will do when prospects Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, and Garin Cecchini are ready for the major leagues?
Luc, Madawaska. Maine
Big dilemma ahead. Betts could become a Ben Zobrist-type, and they move him around. Cecchini, Bogaerts and Middlebrooks could all be in line for position changes. Could they all become outfielders? Marrero is the best shortstop.
Who is the man who sits behind home plate at every Red Sox home game wearing yellow earphones?
Bruce, Asheville NC
Red Sox senior adviser Jeremy Kapstein. Pioneer player agent, former CEO of the San Diego Padres.
My 9-year-old son wanted me to share two affectionate nicknames he made up last year that we use daily. Jonny “Baby” Gomes – which we shorten to “Baby Gomes” when he does something good. For JBJ, we announce his full name “Jackie Bradley Jr” while looking away from one another, then look at each other and repeat the JUNniorrrrrrr. Sometimes we even add another couple of Jr’s for fun. Geaux Sox ’14 from the Bayou state!
Roland, Ruston, La.
Sounds like a fun exercise with your son. Happy to see that. Baseball is a fun sport to follow on a daily basis as a family. I found that to be the case with my own kids and my dad.Follow Nick Cafardo on Twitter at @nickcafardo. Click here to submit a question for the next Ask Nick Red Sox Mailbag.