Red Sox Mailbag: Rusney Castillo Call-Up Would Provide Necessary Spark


The Boston Red Sox aren’t sitting on their hands.

The Red Sox used Thursday’s off-day to fire pitching coach Juan Nieves and reportedly make a change in the bullpen. This season hasn’t gone according to plan, creating the need for some shake-ups.

Will Boston continue to make changes during its 10-game road trip? It’s not impossible, seeing as how the team enters the difficult excursion sitting two games under .500 (13-15).

Change was a common theme in this week’s batch of mailbag questions, to which I implore you all to never change. That said, let’s throw this mailbag into a chicken wing.

When will Rusney Castillo get promoted?
–Owen Sweeney

Sooner rather than later.

That?s obviously vague, in addition to being a guess. But now that Castillo is fully healthy following a shoulder injury, there?s no reason for the Red Sox to continue to rely on unproductive options while a potentially dynamic player like Castillo toils at Pawtucket, especially if the offense continues to struggle.

One has to think the seat is becoming quite warm for both Allen Craig (.156/.255/.222) and Daniel Nava (.143/.213/.167, 0 for his last 18). All things being equal, Nava is a better fit because of his track record as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitching. He?s also out of options, meaning the Red Sox would risk losing him if they attempt to send him down. But at this point, neither player should be comfortable with the situation based on performance.

The problem is that Boston?s continued commitment to certain players clashes with Castillo?s need for regular at-bats. The Red Sox, in all likelihood, won?t want to call up Castillo unless they?re sure he?ll garner significant playing time, as it?ll only put him behind the eight ball in his continued adjustment to baseball in the United States. After all, the Cuban outfielder already has missed time this season.

What, then, is Castillo?s quickest path to the majors if everyone?s healthy? (Shane Victorino is expected to return from the disabled list Monday, and Hanley Ramirez still is day to day with a shoulder injury.)

A realization that this team needs a spark.

Any non-injury-related roster decision the Red Sox make to facilitate Castillo?s call-up is going to come with some level of discomfort. The potential reward far outweighs any risk involved, though, as Boston?s right field production has been atrocious.

Make a determination on Nava/Craig. Promote Castillo. Rely on the oft-injured Victorino as the fourth outfielder, rather than the starting right fielder. Sit back. Enjoy.

Henry Owens?
–Carolyn Peters Mitchell

Keanu Reeves?

Oh, I?m sorry. I thought we were just yelling random names.

Why did we give away John Lackey?
–Pete Di Stefano

The move looks questionable now, with Lackey pitching well in St. Louis under the major league minimum, Craig contributing very little and Joe Kelly (like every Boston starter) battling inconsistency.

There was a method to the Red Sox?s madness at the time, though, and it?s hard to fault them too much for adding Craig (seemed like a good buy-low option) and Kelly (a young, cost-controlled pitcher with upside) for a 36-year-old pitcher with a surgically repaired elbow amid questions about whether Lackey actually would play under the terms of his current deal.

The trade still could work out in Boston?s favor if Kelly hits his stride.

Why was pitching coach Juan Nieves the scapegoat?
–Karen Ritter Whitney

It?s unfortunate Nieves was fired. Both Cherington and manager John Farrell will tell you that. But the Red Sox?s pitching staff has struggled the last two seasons, so while I don?t think Nieves is the real issue, I also don?t think it?s criminal to make such a move in the hopes of sending a message.

Click here for my full take on Nieves’ firing >>

What is the likelihood that Jason Varitek becomes the Red Sox?s pitching coach? It worked out extremely well for Dave Duncan.
–Drew Menard

Unlikely. Consider this.

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I would be a bit wary about turning to Varitek, who has no such experience, in-season to save the Red Sox?s pitching staff, which essentially is what the new guy is going to be asked to do. A former pitcher and/or someone with pitching coach experience probably could relate better.

However, I don?t think it?s outlandish to think Varitek could handle a pitching coach job in the future under the right set of circumstances. It?s unconventional, yes, but sometimes those turn out to be the best decisions.

Is there no possible way that Pedro Martinez could be the next pitching coach?
–Jason Michael Bassett

As with Varitek, it’s an interesting idea given Martinez?s knowledge of the game, etc. But in Martinez?s case, he?s not prepared to make the full-time commitment. And that?s a huge part of the gig.

Is the hitting coach (Chili Davis) next in line to get fired? He should be! Mike Napoli needs help, and he needs it yesterday.
-Rey Conejito


Cherington said Thursday no additional changes to the Red Sox?s coaching staff are expected at this time. And while the offense has struggled of late, it?s important to remember it?s an extremely small sample size. Think back to Opening Day, if you’re looking to maintain your sanity.

Firing Davis isn?t the answer to any of Boston?s problems, especially considering how highly the organization thinks of him.

When is the season over?
–Gordon Sweetpiece

The Major League Baseball season ends Oct. 4, 2015.

When does football start?
–Stephen James Dion

The National Football League kicks off its season Sept. 10, 2015.

…Anyone else need any key dates?

Why is Napoli still in the lineup? Six weeks is enough. You can’t have a guy hitting in the middle of the order with two more home runs and seven more RBIs than my wife.
–Stan Pulnik

Yes, Napoli has struggled. It happens.

While it might suck for the Red Sox, this isn?t unprecedented with regard to Napoli. He?s historically been a streaky hitter, meaning you?ve got to live with the valleys to enjoy the peaks.

There was a point in 2013 when Mike Carp looked like a better option than Napoli. This isn?t 2013, but Napoli?s resurgence down the stretch and contributions in the playoffs that season at least should stand as proof that a six-week span doesn?t define a player?s season, especially when that player?s track record is good and there?s no clear-cut alternative nipping at his heels.

Can we please ask the Red Sox to make the 1975 uniforms their alternate or road jerseys? Seeing them the other night was amazing!
–Jimmy Van Halen

Now there?s an idea.

People tend to go overboard with their infatuation for throwbacks, but those looked pretty sweet. It wouldn?t be the worst thing in the world if the Red Sox wore them in moderation. A couple of times a season ought to do.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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