NEW YORK -- Can’t call ‘em buyers. Can’t call ‘em sellers. About the safest thing you can say about the Red Sox, a month before the trading deadline, is they’re accepting any and all calls.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in the midst of discussing the promotion of rookie outfielder Mookie Betts and the demotion of pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, also addressed broader questions regarding the team’s postion ahead of the deadline.
“We try to look realistically and honestly where we are,’’ Cherington said. “We’re not where we want to be, but I still think the deficit is one we can overcome. We still believe in our talent, we still believe we can be a good team this year. If at some point that picture changes, then it changes, and we’ll react.’’
The Red Sox come into Sunday night’s game against the Yankees in fourth place in the AL East. They begin the night closer to the last-place Tampa Bay Rays (3 ½ games ahead) than the first-place Blue Jays (6 ½ games behind). The Jays, after posting a 21-9 record in May, are just 12-15 in June and have won just four times in their last 13 games. The Sox are 11-15 in June.
With two games left in the month, the Sox have an on-base percentage in June of .295, their lowest since the dark days of September 2012, when Bobby Valentine was complaining he didn’t have a major-league roster and the team had a .267 OBP. The Sox are last in the American League this month in on-base percentage (.295), slugging percentage (.350) and on-base-plus slugging (.645). Their batting average of .230 was one point higher than that of the Houston Astros (.229). The Sox have scored a total of 34 runs in their last 14 games, an average of 2.4 runs a game.
Cherington said that with Shane Victorino’s return postponed by ongoing back issues -- he recently was administered an epidural and has shut down all baseball activities -- calling up 21-year-old rookie Betts made more sense than rushing into a trade for help.
“We’re trying to improve a pretty good team, trying to build a better team,’’ Cherington said. “We wouldn’t have called him up if we didn’t think he’d contribute right away.
“It’s still probably a little early for trades to start happening, and so, based on Mookie’s performance and our confidence in him, we felt this move makes sense now. It doesn’t necessarily preclude us from pursuing other things.’’
Cherington was asked if he had permission from ownership to add pieces to the team in a trade.
“I think we’d be allowed to do whatever we think is in the best interests of the Red Sox,’’ he said.
“You can put moves in a ‘sellers’ bucket or a ‘buyers’ bucket but I’m not sure every move fits neatly into either of those buckets. If that picture changes, we adjust. Everyone here knows roughly what we need.’’