Commentary

Red Sox got help from below

Pawtucket not only provided reinforcements, it made Triple-A playoffs

Updated: September 4, 2012, 2:46 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Everyone knows what a disaster the 2012 season has been for the Boston Red Sox.

Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong and the club will miss the postseason for the third consecutive season.

Down on the farm, however, Boston's Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, are preparing for the Governors' Cup playoffs. They concluded their regular season Monday by beating the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 6-4 in 12 innings.

[+] EnlargeArnie Beyeler
Ken Babbitt/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesPawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler has sent 23 of his players to Boston to play for the Red Sox this season.

In fact, the PawSox are the only full-season minor-league Red Sox affiliate to play better than .500 baseball and they're the only club to reach the postseason this year.

While it's great that the PawSox have earned a playoff berth in back-to-back seasons, it's all about player development at the minor league level. With all the injuries the Red Sox suffered this season, a total of 23 players have been promoted to Boston.

Some have made significant contributions, including third baseman Will Middlebrooks, outfielder Daniel Nava, infielder Pedro Ciriaco, outfielder Ryan Kalish, designated hitter Mauro Gomez and pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

"It's fun to win, but when the big-league team is not winning, no one is happy," PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler said. "That's the nature of the business. It's given some of the younger guys, with all the injuries (in Boston), gives them an opportunity to go up top and show what they can do and we've had plenty of that this year, without a doubt.

"It's called player development and we're all in this together. We just get the benefit of sending them to the big leagues at the end. There have been a lot of people who have put a lot of time in with all those guys."

Anytime Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has called Beyeler and needed reinforcements, those players have been ready to contribute.

"Arnie and the staff have done a terrific job managing a lot of roster turnover and keeping the focus on the field," Cherington said via email. "We've seen good performances by a number of players at different points in their careers. Every time we've called up a player this year, they have been prepared to help at the major league level."

The PawSox finished the season 79-65 and clinched the International League wild card. Pawtucket will host Games 1 and 2 of a five-game-series against the Yankees beginning Wednesday night at 7:05.

"These guys have done a great job down here and have stayed focused," Beyeler said. "They work hard every day and do what they do and have been fortunate enough to win some games along the way."

Meanwhile, the Red Sox continue to struggle. The only saving grace would be to end the season on some sort of winning streak, especially with the players who have worked their way from the minors to the big leagues this season helping out.

"It's fun to turn the TV on and see the guys up there playing," Beyeler said. "That's what it's all about, getting those guys up there however we do it.

"The guys in the big leagues do a nice job of letting them perform up there, putting them in an avenue where those guys feel comfortable and go out and continue to perform like they've performed here. If they don't go up there and perform, we don't get to continue to send guys up there. Ultimately, the players have to play and do what they do."

What makes this PawSox season even more impressive is the fact Beyeler has had a total of 69 players on his roster. When spring training ended, the PawSox's roster for Opening Day was one of their best in recent history with the likes of Middlebrooks, Nava, Ciriaco, shortstop Jose Iglesias, first baseman Lars Anderson and catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

While Anderson was traded to Cleveland, Middlebrooks and Nava were key contributors in Boston before being placed on the disabled list, and Ciriaco, Iglesias and Lavarnway are currently with the Red Sox.

"It's been the tale of two different teams and that's what has made it kind of cool," Beyeler said. "We had a lot of guys early and got out of the chute pretty good, won a bunch of games and then we've been kind of battling since then.

"We went through a stretch of not being very good, not winning many games, while guys were in transition. The extra guys have stepped up, played well and grinded it out. We've added some people along the way with the trades and everything. We just keep working and working hard every day. They've won enough games to keep playing and they've done a great job. They keep at it."

The PawSox will continue their season with a trip to the playoffs for the second consecutive season, something that can't be said in Boston.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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