Will Middlebrooks has shown improvement since being recalled to the Red Sox. But don’t expect the Xander Bogaerts conversation to go anywhere.
Bogaerts continues to impress at Triple-A Pawtucket, which is causing quite the stir about when the Red Sox will finally call up their top prospect. General manager Ben Cherington joined WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan on Thursday, and he was evasive when asked about Bogaerts’ impending arrival.
“We will see,” Cherington said. “I understand why there is so much talk about Xander because he is a really good young player, he is in Triple-A. It almost seems like at times there is more talk about him and less about the guys that are actually on the team and we have won a lot of games with the guys that are actually on the team. We are excited that he has gotten off to doing what he is doing at Triple-A. The rule this time of year is if there are ways to make us a little better and help us win games — every game is important — then we will try to find a way we can do that.”
Bogaerts has performed at every level of the minors, including Triple-A. He was promoted to Pawtucket back in June after posting a .311 average, .407 on-base percentage, six home runs and 35 RBIs in 56 games at Double-A Portland. He has since posted a .297 average, .377 on-base percentage, nine home runs and 32 RBIs with the PawSox.
It’s obvious that Bogaerts has a ton of potential, and there’s reason to believe he would make an impact immediately upon joining the majors. Cherington is just unsure where the 20-year-old would fit into the current major league equation.
“They have got to have a role. Right now every one of our position players [has] a fairly distinct role and generally everyone is doing pretty well in that role,” Cherington said. “There has got to be a role but certainly it is a good feeling to have a guy down there. If there was a need in the infield at shortstop or third base — if something happened to Stephen [Drew] or Will — I’m sure we would have no hesitation going to him.”
Middlebrooks enters Thursday’s series finale in Toronto hitting .400 (6-for-15) with two doubles and two RBIs in four games since being recalled, which makes the Red Sox’ seemingly difficult decision to go with him over Bogaerts look much better. According to Cherington, Middlebrooks was actually the go-to guy all along.
“The decision internally was really easier than perhaps the public narrative would make it seem,” Cherington said. “We looked at a number of issues and ultimately felt like — it is really based a lot on our Triple-A staff and our Triple-A manager who has been with those guys. We have a guy in Middlebrooks who has done it in the big leagues, was a really good player last year and hit a speed bump this year as many, many good young players do. He had to go back to Triple-A to work on some things and he did. When it came time to make a decision and, ‘Let’s try to give someone else a shot at third base,’ it was pretty clear in everyone’s mind that he was the right guy to go to. It wasn’t anything against Xander. We love [Bogaerts] and he is going to be a really good player, but at that particular time it was pretty clear that Will was the right choice.”
Given Cherington’s comments, the whole Bogaerts/Middlebrooks debate that ensued following Jose Iglesias’ departure was actually quite unnecessary. Then again, it comes with the territory when you’re talking about one of the most highly anticipated Red Sox prospects in recent years.