The Nation: Possible 2015 lineups

Ever since the signing of Cuban star, Rusney Castillo, I’ve been asked more than a few times what the lineup MAY look like next season. Keep in mind, there’s an entire offseason remaining (along with the possibilities of waiver trades, claims, etc.) so I can’t 100% say what the lineup will be as there’s still plenty to be done before next April. BUT, we are Red Sox fans and we have as much right to speculate as anyone else. Again, I’m speculating. That means these lineups are my opinions. If you don’t agree, no harm done, just hold your criticism.

1st lineup: AKA how I would make the lineup

1. Rusney Castillo CF
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. David Ortiz DH
4. Mike Napoli 1B
5. Yoenis Cespedes RF
6. Allen Craig LF
7. Brock Holt 3B
8. Xander Bogaerts SS
9. Christian Vazquez C

Why this lineup? Victorino isn’t in there, neither is Will Middlebrooks. Vic isn’t getting any younger. He’s also extremely injury prone. Does that mean I don’t love him or want him here? Not at all. I’m a huge fan of Shane Victorino. But this is how I would make the lineup. If he’s still here next year (barring a trade or a release), I would use him often as a 4th outfielder assuming he’s healthy. And Middlebrooks? I’m sold on him. The only value he has is eye candy (no, not for me). He can’t hit consistently. He’s an average defender at best. And he’s plagued with injuries. In simple terms, I would trade him for a half-eaten bag of crackers and call it a day. That statement won’t sit well with some of you reading this, but again, this is MY opinion. Oh, and Nava? I’d trade him or keep him as a versatile utility guy that can play first along with the outfield. Why is Holt not hitting leadoff in this lineup? Because Castillo is fast. VERY fast. And he has some power. The year Brett Gardner is having could very well be a year Castillo has next season batting leadoff. Besides, I still have Holt in there and as long as he hits, he’ll be here.

Lineup 2:

1. Brock Holt 3B
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. David Ortiz DH
4. Mike Napoli 1B
5. Yoenis Cespedes RF
6. Rusney Castillo CF
7. Allen Craig LF
8. Xander Bogaerts SS
9. Christian Vazquez C

Castillo could be productive in the 6 spot. That lengthens the lineup nicely. I can see this as a very realistic option here. We’ll have to see what happens, but this is assuming we have the roster we have now. Thanks for reading!

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The Nation: The Rusney Castillo Report

At around 12 p.m. today, after my first political science class, I checked my phone for the latest Rusney Castillo update. To my surprise (and to about 10 other people in the surrounding rooms as I shouted, “hell yea”), Castillo agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a 6 year deal. I’ve seen a barrage of questions from people asking who this guy is. And if course, how good is he?

Like Puig, Abreu, and Cespedes, Castillo carries the same clout as being a talented Cuban player. He’s an outfielder/2nd basemen but we all expect him to join the Red Sox crowded outfield. From what I have seen and heard about this guy, he’s got plenty of talent. I fully expect him to be in the starting lineup for the next few years. With this addition, Cespedes could very well move to center field. “Tell me more?” You say. Okay.

Castillo has been compared to Puig and Andrew McCutchen. He is a solid hitter with above average speed and agility. He has a good arm but not like Cespedes. As for hitting the long ball, he has average/slightly above average power. I can see him hit 15-20 homers a year, maybe even 25. Especially since he’s a right handed hitter and will be playing half his games at Fenway. His defense isn’t great, but it’s good. At 27 years old, he’s about to enter his prime so I expect we’ll get the best out of him. Should be a lot of fun to watch that lineup next year.

As always, thanks for reading. I expect we’ll see Castillo sooner rather than later. Go Sox!

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The Nation: What to do with Jackie Bradley Jr.

I love this guy. He’s signed a baseball for me and even had a conversation with me on two separate occasions. He’s soft-spoken and he handles himself very well. At one time, he was considered the second best prospect in the Red Sox system and one of the best in baseball. Defense? He’s a star. You won’t get a ball by this guy. But offensively? If you put the ball on a tee, he would likely find a way to strikeout.

What do the Red Sox do? Trade him? Demote him? Stick with him? We aren’t contending, so there’s plenty of time to figure it out, right? Not necessarily.

The season is quickly winding down. The Red Sox are in evaluation stages for next season. They already made a huge mistake by letting unproven players take the reigns at primary positions to start the year (Bogaerts, Bradley, Sizemore). Bogaerts is a whole other issue, but he’s only 21 so I’m not even beginning to worry about his struggles. But an everyday center fielder is supposed to be productive on both sides of the ball, especially one playing for the Boston Red Sox. Jackie has had this entire season to show he can do both. He excels on the defensive side, but he implodes on the offensive one. What to do?

If Jackie Bradley Jr. can’t prove in the final few weeks he can hit a baseball at the major league level, I would demote him. That would surely hurt his confidence, but it would give him more time to time up his swing and get back to hitting like we all hoped he could (he was a star at South Carolina, mind you. And he hit well all the way up until his major league season). If the Red Sox are looking to contend next year, like we all assume they are, they can’t have an unproven player manning center field everyday. What I would do is give Jackie ample playing time for the remainder of the year. Let him play every single game. Because it’s nothing more than a tryout for next year at this point. Sure, we have other guys that could get looks out there like Mookie, but JBJ was so highly regarded that I think he deserves one last chance to show why. One more chance, Jackie. After that, I’d turn in my JBJ jersey for whoever is starting in center field next season. As always, thanks for reading. Go Sox!

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The Nation: Stanton’s Price Tag

Have to admit I was shocked when I saw the headline: “Red Sox will be aggressive suitors for Stanton this offseason.” I still don’t exactly buy into that. I’ll be very, VERY stunned if the Red Sox and Marlins even engage in talks about the superstar. But there’s always “What if?” And in that “what if,” what would it take to get Stanton in a Red Sox jersey. Simple answer: a lot.

We have a consensual top 3 farm system, and best in the American League in my opinion (I only see the Cubs as having a better overall system). That being said, we have a ton of trade chips that would make Miami at least pick up the phone should Ben make the call. To get an established superstar, you have to give up immense talent in return. So, while none of these names are a certainty, I’ll throw out some possible prospect packages as well as deals with major leaguers in them. Again, this is all speculation and purely MY insight and opinion. So, if you disagree, that’s okay.

Deal: Giancarlo Stanton for Henry Owens, Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, and Manuel Margot.

That’s a huge blow to the farm, losing our number 1 and 3 prospect along with Vazquez and Margot, ranked 8 and 11 respectively.

Deal: Giancarlo Stanton for Henry Owens, Blake Swihart, Anthony Ranaudo, and Deven Marrero

Another big loss. What needs to be understood is that IF a deal were to happen, the Red Sox are going to give up a lot. Marrero is particularly interesting for Miami, they’d prefer Seager from the Dodgers, but Marrero would be a nice alternative.

Deal: Giancarlo Stanton for Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., Deven Marrero, Christian Vazquez, and Rafael Devers.

The only way this deal would work is if Middlebrooks proves to be healthy and productive. Of the possibilities, I see this one as the least likely to happen.

There you have it. There are speculative deals that I would assume would be discussed. Keep in mind, these are minimums for Stanton’s services, and I assume it would take a little more. We’ll have to wait and see if and how Ben approaches the situation.

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The Nation: What I want to see in 2015

Amazing how I can still be excited about the Red Sox after an abysmal and heart wrenching season. But we as fans have plenty to look forward to in 2015. So, here’s a list of things I hope to see next year.

1. Jon Lester wearing a Red Sox uniform again. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think he looks good in the green and gold in Oakland. But he looks best in that jersey that reads, “Boston.” Boston is his home. It has been since he was drafted in 2002 and matured into the ace we all know and still love. The guy is a rare type. He’s a man I look up to, on and off the field. If you want class, look no further than Jon Lester. I still think the chances of him returning are really small, but they have steadily climbed in recent days. IF the Red Sox make an offer anywhere near what other teams offer, I know Jon will come home. The question is if the Red Sox are willing to pay for the homecoming.

2. Another established pitcher in the rotation (or two). James Shields comes to mind for me. He’s not having his best year, but the guy can pitch. We’ve seen him do it in Tampa. That being said, he’s been in the AL East and succeeded. And in his low 30’s already, the Sox could afford him and give him a smaller deal. (3 years would be a good estimation)

3. A full year of the new “big 3” in Ortiz, Cespedes, and Napoli. The power outage appears to be over now that we got Cespedes. I’m sure next year’s lineup will produce much more offense than this year’s. If Craig can come back strong, I expect a lot of damage to be done.

4. A final solution at third base. Middlebrooks just returned from his rehab stint in Pawtucket, but has only played one game since. Holt has occupied that position quite a bit in his career and as long as he keeps hitting, he’ll be in the lineup. I’m wondering if and when the Red Sox will pull the plug on Middlebrooks. This may be his last chance to prove he can be effective. If not, I assume Holt will man third next season and beyond.

5. Swihart and Owens. I’m most excited about these two guys (as in guys that haven’t played a major league game yet). Swihart has a ton of talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. It’ll be interesting to see what that means for Vazquez, as he’s been nothing less than brilliant in his short stint in Boston. Could one of them possibly be used as trade bait? I would expect so. Owens has some nasty stuff. He started the MLB futures game and did well in his short performance. He was just promoted to Triple A, so he’s obviously coming along well. I have a feeling he’ll be a big success in the future.

6. What to do with Clay Buchholz. He has talent. But he can’t harness it because he’s too inconsistent. Sure, he had a great start to the season last year. But what has it been since then? Horrid. He has the WORST ERA in the American League. I watched him give up 7 runs last night. And that was more than enough for me to give up on him. We’ll see what the Red Sox decide to do about him and his woes.

7. A winning record. Believe it or not, the 2012 Red Sox had 5 more wins and 7 fewer losses at this point in the season that year. That’s really frustrating. Hopefully, Ben and company have learned that sitting on your hands too long leads to a disastrous season waiting to happen. I have a feeling they won’t let that happen again. I expect a big offseason.

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The Nation: Cespedes debut

I was there. I was fortunate enough to say I got to see the highly anticipated debut of new slugging outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes, acquired from the A’s for our beloved Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes. Is he worth all the hype?

Yes.

In his first Fenway at bat, he laced a single to left, much to the amusement of us fans lucky enough to see the strength he possesses. He would finish 1-4, and had an opportunity to do some damage in the 7th, only to pop out to Chase Headley at 3rd to end the threat.

But have no worries. We were all on the edge of our seats in that at bat, knowing one of his swings could turn the tide of the game in our favor. And that’s what we were lacking all season. Now we have it. And he’s going to get more and more comfortable in the days ahead. Expect a lot of dents in the monster, and a lot of broken windshields in the parking lot behind it. We now have a “big 3” in the lineup, Ortiz, Cespedes, and Napoli. Gonna be some fun times ahead.

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