With shortstop Stephen Drew traded to the New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon, Bogaerts will move back to his natural position at short, the same spot he manned for the Red Sox on Opening Day earlier this year. The move will also allow Will Middlebrooks to be activated from the disabled list Friday to make his return at third base.
Until Drew made his return to the majors with Boston on June 2, Bogaerts played every game at short. Although things occasionally weren't so smooth -- he made six errors in 54 games at the position -- the 21-year-old seemed to be making continued progress while holding the position down.
Then all that came to a sudden halt. Drew was activated, forcing Bogaerts to shift to third like he did upon his arrival to the big leagues in 2013.
Last year, Bogaerts understood the decision. Drew was entrenched at short and the team was on its way to a World Series title -- no drastic changes were going to be made. Bogaerts was just happy to play. This time around though, Bogaerts was the one who was supposed to be the team's everyday shortstop. Since that day, he hasn't played so much as an inning at the position.
"My heart is always at shortstop," Bogaerts said the day of Drew's re-signing. "I was just feeling so good over there but they made the decision they had to make."
With Drew's tenure now over, general manager Ben Cherington looked back on that decision.
"We signed Stephen Drew because we were trying to fill a need at a time that we were still trying to win and claw for wins," Cherington said. "In retrospect, that move didn't work out the way we wanted it to. Now this is an opportunity to move Bogey back and use the rest of the year to let him play."
As the team has maintained throughout Bogaerts' offensive struggles that have spanned most of June and July, no confidence has been lost in their rookie phenom. If anything, the team will hope the move back to shortstop will once again turn Bogaerts into the offensive spark he was earlier this season.
In his 53 games as a shortstop, Bogaerts slashed .296/.389/.427. His numbers dropped across the board to .182/.217/.300 in 44 games at third.
"He would tell you if he was sitting here that he's gone through some challenges this year," Cherington said. "We've all seen it. Nothing at all has changed in our opinion of him as a player. He's going to be a really good player for us for a long time."
That time could begin again on Friday, when manager John Farrell finally pencils Bogaerts back in at short. For his part, Middlebrooks said he is healthy and excited to prove himself the rest of this season. As a result, the Red Sox seem poised to give Bogaerts as much time as he needs do the same.
"We said last winter we believed he can play short for us -- that didn't change because we signed Stephen Drew despite the attention around it," Cherington said. "In the long run I don't worry about Xander Bogaerts because he's going to be good."
"He'll have to go back to shortstop and take ground balls there now. It looked like he was even getting more comfortable at short right before he moved to third so hopefully he'll just pick right up where he left off."
BOSTON -- Yoenis Cespedes is both showman and shaman, bringing muscle and magic to a team sorely lacking in both. He will hit home runs that remind you of Manny and uncork throws rivaling those of Bo, and adoring Sox fans will soon sport T-shirts that say "Cespedes for the Rest of Us," paying tribute to the Cuban-born outfielder and "Seinfeld" simultaneously.
But for all the excitement Cespedes is sure to bring to Yawkey Way, it is hard to shake the notion that in the end, Cespedes will prove to be nothing more than a powerful anesthetic. And it will take more than Cespedes to mask the pain of losing Jon Lester, the best left-hander ever to wear a Sox uniform not named Ruth or Grove.
A team that won three World Series in 10 years because it had pitchers named Schilling and Pedro and Lowe in 2004, Beckett and Lester and Daisuke in 2007, and Lester and Lackey and Buchholz in 2013, now would have you believe that you can trade away four-fifths of a championship rotation and expect to contend the following season.
“I’m happy to be back, but I’m still in shock of everybody being gone,” Middlebrooks told ESPNBoston.com. “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be like spring training, having a whole new team. I don’t know what to expect. I’m just excited to be back here, playing baseball at Fenway.”
Middlebrooks recently completed his 20-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket, which was his fourth rehab stint with the PawSox this season. He was 11-for-48 with three homers and four RBIs in 12 games during his most recent stint, which began on July 18. He’s been on the DL since May 17 after suffering a fractured right index finger. At the time of the injury, he was batting .197 with two homers and nine RBIs in 21 games for the Red Sox.
“I’m feeling a lot better and I’m excited to get out there and be healthy and be able to show what I can do,” Middlebrooks said at Clay Buchholz’s charity event Thursday.
With the addition of Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and the likelihood right fielder Shane Victorino landing back on the DL, Jackie Bradley Jr. will have two new corner outfielders on each side of him.
“He’s great. He’s a great player,” Bradley said of Cespedes. “He’s definitely going to be able to help our team out. I’m looking forward to playing alongside him, yes sir.”
Only nine months after winning the World Series, the Red Sox are in the basement of the AL East and have struggled with consistency in almost every aspect of the game. So general manager Ben Cherington decided it was best to make some dramatic changes, something the players have no choice but to grudgingly accept.
“At the beginning of the season, you’re hoping when this point comes around, the season’s going like you want it to go and you’re adding people instead of taking them away,” Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said. “It’s just the business side of it and there’s nothing really anybody can do about it, it’s already done.”
Only a few hours after Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline, Buchholz held his annual charity event at Lucky Strike Lanes/Jillian’s behind Fenway Park and briefly discussed how this once championship team is different.
“We’ll be friends till the day we all die,” Buchholz said. “Just not during the nine months during the season we won’t be around each other nearly as much.
“It’s a little different, but it’s the business side of baseball and hopefully they can move on and help another team reach the playoffs and win another World Series.”
Buchholz, Lester and Lackey formed a tight bond over the last few years, with Buchholz and Lester being developed as homegrown talent with the Red Sox organization. Both tossed no-hitters for the Red Sox. When Buchholz was dealing with his struggles, Lester and Lackey were there for support. Buchholz is grateful for what he learned from them.
“Being around a guy like [Lackey] that’s been around a while and has helped two teams win a World Series and was the deciding game-winner in both of those World Series -- something like that doesn’t come around very often,” Buchholz said. “Then Jon Lester, being around him and knowing him the entire time I’ve been here, when you say ‘an ace of a pitching staff’ I think of Jon Lester. He’s going to do big things wherever he goes.”
When Buchholz made his major league debut in 2007, he was surrounded by veterans Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Mike Timlin. Buchholz eventually became a full-time starter in the rotation, along with Lester and Lackey.
Now Buchholz is the senior member of the rotation.
“I feel good where I’m at right now,” he said. “I feel healthy and obviously, as far as the numbers go, it hasn’t gone the way I’ve wanted it to this season yet, but if I have 10, 11 or 12 starts [remaining] I’m going to try the best I can and help the team win.”
Buchholz is 5-7 with a 5.87 ERA in 17 starts, with 70 strikeouts and 33 walks in 96 2/3 innings. Until Cherington adds more starting pitching during the offseason, Buchholz will be leaned upon to lead the staff for the remainder of 2014.
“Waking up in the morning and seeing what’s going on, and knowing that when 3:30 rolls around it’s going to get pretty hectic, the only thing I can say about it is that’s the business side of baseball. Things happen and you’ve just got to take what you’re given sometimes,” he said.
Here are a few takeaways from what Cherington had to say about his team's busy day:
• The decision to sell at the deadline was the result of Boston's poor play in the last week and a half. As recently as July 21, Cherington said the team was looking to add players in preparation for making a run at a playoff spot. Instead, the Red Sox dropped eight of their nine games after that day and found themselves in the situation they were in on Thursday.
"I would say when we got towards the end of that week and going into that Tampa series last weekend in Tampa that is probably when our conversations shifted," Cherington said. "We started making more calls to see what opportunities there would be for our veteran guys."
"If we weren't in the position that we're in, which I take responsibility for, then these trades don't happen."
"My expectation is that we would be active in the starting pitching market this winter with trades, free agency, whatever," Cherington said. "But we're going to learn a lot more about our young group."
Cherington added: "A lot of the guys that are now on this roster will more than likely be on the roster next April, so we've got to start building a team that can win."
Cherington said attractive prospect packages were offered for several of the players the team traded, but the team insisted upon getting major league-ready talent instead.
• Speaking of that young group, the rest of 2014 will not be a lost cause, as Cherington said the remaining games this season will be dedicated to seeing how they handle extended major league time.
Top prospect Anthony Ranaudo will make his major league debut Friday, while Allen Webster, Kelly, Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa all figure into the rotation puzzle as well. Rookie Xander Bogaerts will shift back to short and Will Middlebrooks will make his return off the disabled list Friday night to serve as the third baseman moving forward.
New acquisitions Cespedes and Craig will man the outfield corners, with such a plan marking the first time Cespedes will play right field in the majors. The two likely will surround rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. in center.
"We've got 54 games left," Cherington said. "These are now the most important 54 games of our season because we've got a lot to find out."
"We have new players that we want to make sure are comfortable and get acclimated to Boston and comfortable at the ballpark and everything that comes along with Boston. We've got young players who are still developing and need to continue to improve and develop; we need to focus on that."
• More roster moves are expected on Friday, as Cherington hinted that Shane Victorino will need time to nurse a back injury, and two bullpen arms will be needed to replace Miller and Felix Doubront (who was traded Wednesday to the Chicago Cubs).
In all, the Red Sox undoubtedly surrendered a large degree of talent at the deadline and will most likely endure some growing pains moving forward. However, Cherington said that he was satisfied with what the team accomplished at the end of the day, and plenty more will come before Opening Day 2015.
"As far as the return, time will tell," Cherington said. "We were happy with what we did. We think it fits with what we're trying to do, which was to focus on getting major league or near-major league proven talent."
Cherington added: "We're in better position than we were a week ago, but certainly not done. Hopefully we've done things to get a head start on the offseason."
He won’t be.
Lester, along with outfielder Jonny Gomes, was traded to the Oakland Athletics as part of a flurry of deadline moves by the Red Sox. Pitcher John Lackey was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals, Andrew Miller was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles, and shortstop Stephen Drew was traded to the New York Yankees.
So when Pedroia arrives Friday afternoon at Fenway Park in preparation of a three-game set with the Yankees this weekend, there will be some new faces in the clubhouse and some notable absences. Pedroia, who is now the lone homegrown talent remaining to win two World Series for the Red Sox, understands baseball is a business, but losing a quality teammate, pitcher and friend in Lester was a little tough to handle for the veteran second baseman.
While Pedroia and his wife, Kelli, arrived at Fenway to attend Clay Buchholz’s charity event at nearby Lucky Strike Lanes/Jillian’s, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was inside the ballpark holding a press conference to discuss the day’s dealings.
Since it’s now clear the team is focused on the 2015 season and beyond, the next two months will serve as a virtual tryout for younger players, especially the pitching staff, while Cherington and manager John Farrell get a head start on next season.
“I think we’re in better position than we were a week ago, but certainly not done,” Cherington said. “Obviously, now that the deadline has passed there’s likely a lot less activity as far as roster moves the rest of the way, other than I’m sure at some point some young players will come up. Hopefully we’ve done things to get a head start on the offseason, address some things, but I think, and I know John feels the same way, we’ve got 54 games left. These are now the most important 54 games of our season because we’ve got a lot to find out.
“We have new players that we want to make sure are comfortable and get acclimated to Boston and comfortable at the ballpark and everything that comes along with Boston. We’ve got young players who are still developing and need to continue to improve and develop, we need to focus on that. And we need to start building a team again so a lot of the guys that are now on this roster will more than likely be on the roster next April, so we’ve got to start building a team that can win. So I think the next 54 games are really important toward that. But of course, there’ll be more work to do this offseason too.”
But Pedroia does not want to focus on 2015. He wants to focus on the New York Yankees and the rest of the 2014 season. He hopes his teammates feel the same way.
“I’m showing up to win every day,” he said. “It doesn’t change the way the guys should think or play the game. My focus, and our team’s focus, should be show up to win. I don’t like looking ahead to other things.”
While Pedroia has been a mainstay at second base for the Red Sox, the left side of the infield has seen many changes. With Drew gone, Xander Bogaerts will return to shortstop and Will Middlebrooks will be activated from the disabled list and play third. If Middlebrooks and Bogaerts can produce the way the club has always believed they could, it could be the start of some consistency in the infield.
Pedroia always plays with emotion. This week, the business aspect of the game made him show a bit more off the field than he normally does.
“The more you play you understand the business side of the game, but it’s still hard,” Pedroia said. “You just don’t work together, you’re with each other more than you are with your family, so it’s a tough time.”
On Thursday, Red Sox security escorted Pedroia across the street to the charity event, and as he sat in a golf cart, he said, “I don’t know what else to say.”
I argued all spring that the Yanks should sign Stephen Drew to play one year at third base, then slide him to shortstop after Derek Jeter ends his Hall of Fame career this fall. They declined to give up the draft pick required to sign him, but now
The return was much heavier on major leaguers than the typical haul for a deadline-day seller, setting things up for the Red Sox to compete in 2015. But the other major takeaway from the return is the additions the front office made to the organization’s glut of young major-league and upper-minors pitching. In all, the Red Sox now boast no fewer than 10 players aged 26 and younger between Boston, Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland who project as potential major-league starting pitchers.
Before the deadline, right-handers Rubby De La Rosa, 25, and Brandon Workman, 25, had seen extensive time in the Red Sox rotation and performed well, posting ERAs of 3.45 and 4.45, respectively, in 21 appearances between them. Following the trade of Jake Peavy, Allen Webster, 24, made his return to the major-league rotation, earning the win on Sunday. All three likely will get the chance to pitch in the majors for the rest of the season with the departures of Peavy, Jon Lester and John Lackey.
Meanwhile, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, 24, will make his major-league debut on Friday, taking Lackey’s spot in the rotation, at least for this turn. Last year’s Eastern League pitcher of the year has pitched well of late, making mechanical adjustments and slowly working a slider into his arsenal. Joining him in Pawtucket has been fellow right-hander Matt Barnes, 24, perhaps the only prospect in the group who has had his struggles this year, fighting control issues and posting a 4.81 ERA. However, with one of the best fastballs of the club’s starters, one can give Barnes a mulligan, particularly given the shoulder soreness in spring training that led to Barnes beginning the season on the disabled list.
The Pawtucket rotation already has seen one recent addition in left-hander Edwin Escobar from the Giants system. Escobar, 22, has struggled with home runs this season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but went six strong innings in his first PawSox start on Thursday afternoon. He was rated a top-100 prospect entering the season by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and is a player for whom a change of scenery could lead to improved results, even in Triple-A.
Another addition could be coming to Pawtucket in the very near future -- tall left-hander Henry Owens. The 21-year-old is the consensus top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system and probably could have been promoted a month or two ago, but there was no room in the Pawtucket rotation when it included the above players and knuckleballer Steven Wright, who also is enjoying great success this year. Owens already has set a Portland Sea Dogs record for wins in a season with 14 while posting a 2.60 ERA and striking out 126 hitters in 121 innings. Although he has things to work on before he is major league ready -- fastball command and refining his curveball into a more consistent third pitch chief among them -- he is clearly ready for his next challenge and could be promoted for his next start.
Despite the impending loss of its ace in Owens, the Double-A Portland rotation will remain strong, as it will be fronted by left-handers Brian Johnson, 23, and newly-acquired Eduardo Rodriguez, 21. Johnson has raised his stock perhaps as much as any prospect in the Boston farm system this year, earning a quick promotion from High A Salem in May and posting a 2.05 ERA in 16 Double-A starts. Johnson may not project to be a future ace, but has perhaps the highest ceiling of the pitchers listed here, as his four-pitch mix and advanced pitchability make it a near-certainty he will at least be a back-of-the-rotation arm as a worst-case scenario.
Rodriguez, acquired from Baltimore for Andrew Miller on Thursday, was not unlike Escobar in that he has struggled this year despite consensus top 100 prospect status entering the season. Ian Cundall profiled Rodriguez earlier today (LINK HERE), pointing out his strong pedigree despite struggling in his return trip to Double-A Bowie. If Rodriguez can rediscover his 2013 form, he could become a true steal in return for two months of Miller, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
All told, the nature of player development will lead to divergent career paths for these 10 pitchers. Some will become major league starters, but others will head to the bullpen eventually if their development stalls. Certainly, some will be traded, and many have speculated that another goal of the Red Sox’ trades this week has been to stockpile assets for a bigger deal this offseason for the likes of Troy Tulowitzki or Giancarlo Stanton. And to be frank, the odds are against any of these players developing into the ace the Red Sox lost when they traded Lester, so expect a front-of-the-rotation starter to still be a top shopping list item for Cherington this winter.
But the exciting part is the plethora of potential outcomes given this stockpile; as stunning as Thursday’s events were, expect plenty of fireworks involving these names going forward.
Here is a summation of how the deals immediately impact the composition of the team:
* Rookie right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will make his major-league debut Friday night, starting in John Lackey’s place against the New York Yankees.
* Xander Bogaerts will return to shortstop, where he opened the season and started 53 games before shifting to third base.
* Will Middlebrooks will be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket and play third base.
* Shane Victorino likely is headed to the disabled list with a recurrence of the hamstring issues that have plagued him all season.
* Power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, acquired from Oakland, is expected at least for the time being to play in right field, a position that will be new to him in the big leagues but which he played in Cuba, Cherington said.
* Outfielder-first baseman Allen Craig, acquired from St. Louis, will play left field.
* Pitcher Joe Kelly, acquired from the Cardinals, will be slotted into the starting rotation.
* Brock Holt will continue to fill the super-utility role he has played much of the season.
* An additional reliever will be called up from Pawtucket, with a corresponding roster move still to be made.
* The Red Sox rotation, as presently constituted, includes Kelly, Clay Buchholz, Allen Webster, Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa. It remains to be seen whether Ranaudo is here for more than one start.
* Cherington said he was not certain how many of the newcomers will be in uniform for Friday night's game against the Yankees.
Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo and John Danks were all trade possibilities, but no deals went down. The asking price on Alexei Ramirez was said to be too high for suitors, while Adam Dunn remains a possibility to be moved during the trade waivers period in August.
“If there was something there we would have done something,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We know people are making moves all over the place, but like (what was) said earlier, we probably expected to have these guys in here today and tomorrow, and that’s what we’ve got.”
At this point last year, the White Sox had already added Avisail Garcia, doing it July 30 when Jake Peavy was sent to the Boston Red Sox. In August of last year, the White Sox pulled off a move that sent Alex Rios to the Rangers. That deal not only freed up some cash, but also brought back Leury Garcia in return.
In the offseason, center fielder and leadoff man Adam Eaton was brought into the mix via trade and Jose Abreu was signed. The White Sox also traded closer Addison Reed for third baseman Matt Davidson, but that move has yet to yield a return since Davidson remains at Triple-A Charlotte.
The White Sox still have areas of the roster that could use bolstering. Their bullpen has gone through some difficult times and the back end of the rotation has proved to be vulnerable. Moving forward, the White Sox still need to decide if Viciedo is the answer in left field and if Tyler Flowers is their guy at catcher.
None of those needs were met Thursday, but it didn’t mean the White Sox would not see the awkward trade process first-hand. In the seventh inning, with Beckham at the plate, the Tigers pulled center fielder Austin Jackson out of the game because he had been traded to the Seattle Mariners.
Tigers starter Drew Smyly already had been told that he was headed to the Tampa Bay Rays, with former Cy Young Award winner David Price headed to Detroit.
“It was odd,” Ventura said. “At first I thought the pitcher might have been hurt, but we’ve seen that before when deals were going down. I don’t know how many minutes it was before (the deadline). But when you see that happen, I’m sure it’s weird for them. It’s odd in the middle of the game even for their team to have that happen. You can tell it affects some guys.”
An inning after the trade, the White Sox added two runs to help wrap up a 7-4 victory.
Beckham, who acknowledged that the past few weeks have been awkward, looked comfortable when he doubled in a run in the second inning. But, otherwise, the White Sox have insisted that nobody was feeling any trade-deadline pressures.
“Truthfully, it wasn’t even a topic of conversation in here between anybody,” Danks said. “There’s nothing anybody can do about it. It’s part of the game, and, yeah, I don’t think that had any effect on any of us, to be honest.”
Now comes August, when players who go through trade waivers can be moved. The restrictive nature of the process tends to reduce the anxiousness.
“The deadline doesn’t mean you can’t get (a trade) done,” said Dunn, who could end up being an August target of a team in need of left-handed power. “If you are worried about that, you aren’t worried about what you are supposed to be worried about. I mean, personally, I don’t ever think about it. I know a lot of times a lot of guys read stuff they probably shouldn’t read and start believing it.”
While Thursday brought the official end to this deadline, indications are that White Sox players knew there might not be a deal as far back as a week and a half ago. It could help to explain the 5-2 record on their just-concluded road trip to Minnesota and Detroit, as well as their eight victories in 13 games since the All-Star break.
“They were pretty good today as far as being able to not really pay attention to it,” Ventura said of his team that pounded out 16 hits. “I think even this road trip, two weeks ago it was probably in their head a little bit, and this road trip was good.”
Now comes a six-game homestand against Minnesota and Texas and maybe a chance for some guys to cancel that pending order for moving boxes.
“It ended on a good note,” Ventura said of the road trip. “Guys swung the bat today, even early on putting pressure on. And you’ve got a guy like Moises (Sierra) swinging like he did. Any time the bottom of your order is swinging like that you have a chance to score some runs. I wouldn’t say (Danks) was particularly sharp, but we battled through it.”