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Nick Cafardo | On baseball

Good time for Red Sox to deal with reality

Red Sox pitcher Brian Johnson was pulled by manager John Farrell after giving up two runs to the Astros in the fifth inning on Tuesday.Richard Carson/AP

HOUSTON — After the Red Sox’ 8-3 drubbing Tuesday night, the franchise’s major league, Triple A, and Double A teams are 52 games below .500.

Things are terrific with the Single A team in Greenville, where there’s hope of a new generation of Red Sox talent.

The big club’s latest hope, lefthander Brian Johnson, showed a nice curveball in his major league debut, but allowed three hits, four walks, and four runs over 4⅓ innings and was tagged with the loss.

He’s the second Red Sox lefty prospect to come up and start a game this season, following Eduardo Rodriguez. Another, Henry Owens, could be next, having seemingly mastered Triple A.


Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was in Houston and is expected to address the media Wednesday. Will we get more of the same rhetoric, that the team is still deciding whether it is in the race or out? The rest of us seem to know the answer, but it’s often difficult to admit the season is gone and that, despite everyone’s best intentions, things didn’t work out.

We think we’ll get the same message we get each time the Red Sox GM shows up on a road trip.

At this point, there’s nothing left for the Red Sox to do except sell off and rebuild their upper-level prospect depth.

Owens should be the next player called up. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is in one of those strange places where yes, he’s hitting well at Triple A, but he has not been able to do it in the majors.

Then there’s the dilemma of not being able to play Bradley in center field, where the team can optimize his value, because there is an idea that Mookie Betts shouldn’t be moved.

Well, Xander Boagerts was moved last season and it didn’t affect his 2015 season at all. In fact, the move from shortstop to third probably helped him in turning the corner as a shortstop.


And you have the same sort of thing developing at shortstop where, even though Bogaerts is greatly improved, Deven Marrero is probably a better defensive shortstop. So where does he play? Third baseman Garin Cecchini, once a top prospect, has had a poor season in Pawtucket. Outfielder Bryce Brentz is injured and hasn’t hit righthanders well. So there’s four guys with no place to play in the majors.

The Red Sox held on to these players a little too long. When they had the chance to deal them, they decided not to.

But the youth movement is already happening in Boston. Betts, Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, Rodriguez, Johnson, and Noe Ramirez are all up and playing. Catcher Christian Vazquez will return to the mix next season.

We may see righthander Matt Barnes again, but his value has plummeted due to poor exposure in the majors, though the team might get some value packaging him in a deal.

So, this is it for a while.

Until the Greenville Gang and Manuel Margot (Double A) are ready, there’s going to be a gap of talent. So the Red Sox might as well fill that gap by picking off some Double A and Triple A prospects for veterans from teams in pennant races.

One veteran scout said Tuesday while watching the Red Sox-Astros that Koji Uehara could be sought after. The closer market is strong, led by Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, and Craig Kimbrel.


Uehara, certainly the oldest closers in the group, is, when healthy, also one of the most efficient.

The downside to a deal is he has another $9 million owed to him next season, so the Red Sox may have to eat some money in order to receive a quality prospect. They did that last season when trading Andrew Miller to Baltimore for Rodriguez.

With Kansas City scouts watching the Red Sox, could they get interested in Alejandro De Aza or Shane Victorino? Could the Red Sox get the Angels, Pirates, or Mets — all of whom need a bat — interested?

One scout said that Brock Holt would be more sought after than Ben Zobrist, if available. It’s a thought. Utlility players usually fizzle out after a few years as they become slower because of the wear and tear of playing different positions.

We are seeing it with Zobrist already and we saw it happen to Chone Figgins. Holt’s value will never be higher and he fits needs for a lot of teams, including the Mets, who need a shortstop.

So, as we watch more adventures in the field by Hanley Ramirez (who also made a couple of nice plays Tuesday), and a team that simply is sleepwalking, we think that Cherington and the Red Sox will have to soon wave the white flag and declare this another failed season and one that needs to be a bridge to 2016.


The rest of us know that’s what it is. Maybe we don’t have to be told by Cherington, but to keep saying that the season isn’t lost yet and that this team still has it in them to make a race of it, is simply the wrong approach.

All it does is create more resentment between the fans and the team. Fans, media, supporters, critics all know what’s happening here.

It’s time to be honest and just admit that this team wasn’t built properly. Not last year. Not this year.

There was an overexaggeration of the talent in the farm system, though kudos for Bogaerts and Betts.

But we all understand what this team is. It’s not very good.

Just say it.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.