Prospects forcing their way into the conversation

At what point does Boston have to consider giving the 'kids' a shot?

Time may be running out for several members of the big league club. Not in any serious, life-threatening way but in the ‘not producing at the big league level’ way. I’m not condemning anyone though, let’s face it, Felix Doubront, as shaky as he is, is still about a billion times better at baseball than I am. So, I dont mean this article as an indictment of anyone’s talent, simply that there may be other, in-house options that Boston brass needs to consider.

Brandon Workman by Kelly O’Connor of sittingstill.smugmug.com

Since I sort of called him out above, I suppose I should start with Felix. Doubront may be the definition of an enigma. This season he has posted a 1-3 record across seven starts with a 5.09 ERA. Gone are the strikeouts from 2012, when there was more than one per inning, as the lefty has managed only 24 punchouts in 35 1/3 innings pitched. This, of course, is the same pitcher who struggled in the early goings of last year, and subsequently rattled off a string of 16 masterful starts. That streak started just about this time last year, so who knows, maybe he will pick it back up and be a horse throughout the summer when Clay Buchholz inevitably succumbs to injury. If not though, at what point do the Sox look to replace him and with who?

The first guy who jumps to my mind is Brandon Workman. Workman’s results have been mediocre thus far, but he has proved himself in Boston already. In fact, you could probably make the case that literally anyone in the Pawtucket rotation could replace Doubront. That said, I think Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes have too little experience and I, for one, am still on the Rubby de la Rosa-as-a-closer train. That leaves us with Workman and Allen Webster. Webster has been impressive in Pawtucket to start the year, though he isnt striking people out at an alarming rate and it looks like he may have finally put some of his control issues behind him.

At this point, I get the feeling that Felix is in the rotation more because of his lack of options than his actual pitching prowess. With no way to stash him in the Minors, Boston has to either keep him, lose him for nothing, or trade him. If he continues to play poorly, he will force Boston’s hand and a move will have to be made.

Moving right along, I think something will have to happen on the left side of the infield. Before anyone tries to kick me off of the Monster, Leonidas-style, I’m obviously not talking about Xander Bogaerts. Sure, growing pains hurt, but the kid wasnt the consensus number two prospect in baseball because of his cool name. No, I’m talking about Will Middlebrooks (and probably Jonathan Herrera). Everyday that goes by, Middlebrooks looks more and more like the 2013 version than the 2012. Middlebrooks needs to find some kind of consistency at the plate if he ever wants to cement his role at the hot-corner.

With Garin Cecchini hitting a nifty .308 in Pawtucket, I think we’re probably one,  serious Middlebrooks-sized-injury away from Cecchini’s major league debut. Okay, this is probably one of the worst ideas I’ve had considering Cecchini’s less than sparkling defense at third. The combination of him and Bogaerts is likely enough to give a groundball-pitcher fits. But still, if Middlebrooks were hitting well, I think Cecchini would be the one moving for him. But if Middlebrooks can’t get it together, he’ll likely have to give way to Cecchini at some point soon.

And, very briefly, I think exchanging Jonathan Herrera would be a wise move. He cant really hit well enough to do anything more than back-up and get the occasional spot start. I think the trade for him was fine, since Morales likely had no place in Boston with the glut of pitching the Sox currently possess. That said, his performance this season hasnt been very good, and I dont see much reason not to play Brock Holt in Herrera’s stead.

Holt looks to have rediscovered the swing that made him an important piece of the Joel Hanrahan trade and is currently hitting .337 in Pawtucket. Herrera and Holt even share similar fielding percentages throughout their minor league careers. The argument can be made that Herrera can play short, but so can Holt, perhaps not as well, but certainly not much worse than incumbent Bogaerts. That said, his small stature automatically diminishes his range and creates holes whether the might otherwise be none.

I’m not saying these moves NEED to be made, but it’s food for thought. I feel like I end all my article by saying ‘prospects dont always pan out.’ As annoying as it may be, there is some truth to it, and there is no guarantee that if any one of these guys takes over, that the Red Sox will be any better off. But if things continue down this same path, then I think it will be hard not to make a change.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

I’m currently an undergraduate, studying philosophy, at the University of St Andrews. Raised in New Hampshire, I currently live in Scotland and I’m trying desperately to keep the Red Sox spirit alive but the beard growing isn't going so well. Frankly, I’m just holding out hope that the Angels will pull a Babe Ruth, and sell Mike Trout to Lucchino and Co.

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