Boston Red Sox: Quick hits

Even though they are a long way from contention, the Boston Red Sox continue to be an entertaining team to watch night in and night out.

Due to a poor record, they’ve been given the chance to, how should I put this, experiment with a roster that provides fans with a mixed bag of talent and characters: you’ve got the veteran mainstays like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz; the new guys acquired at the trade deadline in Yoenis Cespedes (who has quickly become a favorite of mine) and Joe Kelly; the youngsters like Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt; and the even younger in Mookie Betts and Christian Vazquez.

Players are moving back and forth through Boston and Pawtucket at a feverish pace with no sign of a stoppage coming as September approaches and roster’s expand. It’s all part of the bigger picture to see what works, who can play, and who they can show off.

The point I’m trying to get across is that there will be a lot going on in this final month of the season that will be worth noting as we turn our heads towards 2015 and all prematurely purchase Giancarlo Stanton jerseys for our whole families. I’m going to bring you that information each week in the “Quick Hits” segment.

Let’s do it:

Boston Red Sox

Rubby De La Rosa has pitched well this season with a 3.81 ERA

Rubby De La Rosa’s puzzling stats

De La Rosa has been a solid addition to Boston’s rotation. He’s a bulldog on the mound, for better or for worse, and will likely be in the starting five come next year.

But one thing doesn’t add up: De La Rosa has just 58 strikeouts in 82.2 innings pitched (6.31 K/9).

I’m not quite sure how in the world a pitcher who features a 95-plus MPH fastball can have such low strikeout totals. It’s actually kind of impressive. It’s as if he purposely chooses to let the hitter put the ball in play rather than swing and miss. Some sort of twisted pleasure for him I suppose.

He’s still predominantly a fastball pitcher as he continues to work on incorporating his slider and change-up into his starts more often. But even if he was just throwing all fastballs — which have been clocked at upwards of 98 MPH — that should be enough to be higher than 6.31 K/9, no?

His swinging strike percentage, which calculates exactly what it sounds like, is way too low for a pitcher with his kind of stuff at 7.8 percent. I mean that’s lower than Clay Buchholz, you know, one of the worst starting pitchers in MLB this year. It’s also lower than a handful of guys whose velocity dances around the high 80’s like Jake Peavy, Jered Weaver and John Danks. Consider that De La Rosa has had three strikeouts or less in eight of his 14 starts, including an absolutely staggering seven punch outs in 22 innings pitched in July, and you start to understand why he’s such a puzzling man.

Bottom line is for a player who Boston sees as a potential starter or power reliever, his stuff needs to start translating to more swings and misses.

Boston Red Sox

Brock Holt has taken over the leadoff spot for the Red Sox and hasn’t looked back.

Brock Holt is not the best player ever, but he’s close

All kidding aside, Holt has carved out a role for himself on this team moving forward. Whether or not they can find a permanent position for him or he just becomes the ultimate utility man remains to be seen, but he will be an important piece for 2015.

The self-proclaimed BrockStar has posted a .291/.342/.390 slash with 3 homers and 27 RBI’s from the leadoff spot in 98 games. With 120 hits, he’s ranked 77th in MLB, impressive mainly because he’s only had 413 at-bats to do so — only Paul Goldschmidt, Josh Harrison and Justin Morneau have more hits with 413 or less at-bats this season.

If that doesn’t cut it for you, he’s also played every position besides pitcher and catcher along the way.

Now, his aura might fool you into thinking he’s an amazing defender, but in reality he is about average in the field. Average at a single position is one thing, average at seven positions is just a god damn luxury for any manager.

Holt’s been a great story all year after failing to make the team out of spring training. If he continues, which seems likely considering he’s floated around .300 all year, Boston will have their hands tied come 2015.

Boston Red Sox

After shining in the postseason last year, Xander Bogaerts has followed up with a disappointing 2014 campaign.

Xander Bogaert’s blues

Baseball’s a fantastic sport isn’t it?

Once hailed as the next great shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, Bogaerts is now the next player up for demotion.

After showing up in the postseason a year ago with the presence of a 10-year vet, Bogaerts is now facing the rigors of what it’s like to actually play a full season in the bigs. And what a ride it has been.

[Boston Red Sox land Rusney Castillo]

On June 4th, Bogaerts was hitting .304/.395/.464. Flash forward almost three months and that slash has dropped dramatically to .223/.293/.333. If he wasn’t a 21-year-old rookie with limited major league experience, I would say that those numbers are unexplainable.

In reality, though, it makes perfect sense.

Despite how everyone perceives prospects, not everyone is the next Mike Trout. The normal procedure is for a player to show signs that he can succeed in the majors, struggle when pitchers make adjustments, and then make adjustments off those adjustments to succeed again. That last part is where Bogaerts has failed. He seems lost to me. Like he is just waiting for the season to be over because he has no idea how to fix what’s going on.

The question becomes what do you do with him? He is obviously still the shortstop of the future in my eyes, but when you consider that Boston demoted Jackie Bradley Jr. after he posted a .216/.288/.290 slash in 112 games, you start to wonder if the hammer will come down on Bogaert’s too?

I think both guys could benefit from a little more time in the minor leagues. Bogaerts and Bradley only have  676 plate appearances between them at the Triple-A level and with calendar turning towards September, I don’t see the benefits of either of them remaining on the major league roster.

 

Visit the Boston Red Sox team page for more news and opinions.