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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Speier: Two’s a crowd: Can Red Sox find room for Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo?

And Jackie Bradley Jr. is "stubborn". Don’t they need to trade him before starting with that stuff?

At a time when the Red Sox are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see Rusney Castillo in games to figure out what, exactly, they have in their newly wealthy outfielder, they are enjoying a dazzling display from Mookie Betts in the very position that Castillo is expected to occupy next year… In 15 games since taking over everyday center field duties from Jackie Bradley Jr., Betts is hitting .315 with a .413 OBP and .556 slugging mark. He’s slammed three homers and walked more times (9) than he’s struck out (8) while stealing three bases. His center field defense remains a work in progress, yet the progress is evident from his prior stints in the big leagues…  Betts and Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson are the only two players in all of professional baseball to smack 15 or more homers and steal 30 or more bases in each of the last two years…

Until Memorial Day weekend, [Betts had] spent his entire career playing second base (a position that would appear to be occupied for the foreseeable future in Boston), and he’s also played a bit of right this year. It’s not hard to imagine that he could also learn to play left, and he’s taken ground balls on the left side of the infield as well. There are ways to permit Betts to fit into a roster, just as has been the case this year with Brock Holt.

That said, the Sox are mindful of wanting to avoid putting too much on the 21-year-old’s plate. He won’t be playing infield for the duration of this year, and as of now, the likelihood is that he’ll report to spring training next February being asked to build upon this year’s crash course in center field, with that as his primary position moving forward, at least while with the Sox… Longer term, the idea of pairing Castillo and Betts—assuming both emerge as dynamic players who can impact the game at the plate, in the field and on the bases—offers an echo of some of the most successful outfield pairings in the recent Red Sox past… General manager Ben Cherington noted at the time that Castillo was introduced that the team maintains its belief in the need to have two center fielders in the lineup: one in center and one in right.

The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 12:32 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jackie bradley jr., mookie betts, red sox, rusney castillo

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   1. DCA Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4784588)
Betts and Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson are the only two players in all of professional baseball to smack 15 or more homers and steal 30 or more bases in each of the last two years…

This is pretty surprising to me (I guess maybe the era of 30/30 guys is over) but also smacks of arbitrary limits to create a list of two dissimilar players.

Betts 2013: 15 HR/38 SB
Betts 2014: 15 HR/37 SB

Pederson 2013: 22/31
Pederson 2014: 33/30

Pederson is definitely more of a power/speed threat, Betts is a speedster with just enough pop to reach 15 HR.

And I suppose there's this:

Carlos Gomez 2013: 24/40
Carlos Gomez 2014: 21/29

   2. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4784610)
What would Atlanta need to throw in with Evan Gattis to get Betts?
   3. Lassus Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4784637)
A baseball player?
   4. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4784644)
Your base stupidity as a Mets fan notwithstanding, Evan Gattis fills a need with Boston (C/DH) unless there's some super prospect in the Red Sox system that I am unaware of. And Betts would obviously fill a need in Atlanta (CF or 2B, really.) I don't think a 1-1 swap is likely or reasonable, which is why I asked what else would need to be added. But by all means, go pretend Daniel Murphy's a baseball player again.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4784646)
unless there's some super prospect in the Red Sox system that I am unaware of.


Blake Swihart.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4784656)
How about the Sox offer any 2 pitchers in their organization, and throw-in Bradley Jr., for Hamels? Is that half-way fair in the abstract? In the real world, would the Phillies consider it?
   7. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4784670)
Your base stupidity as a Mets fan notwithstanding, Evan Gattis fills a need with Boston (C/DH) unless there's some super prospect in the Red Sox system that I am unaware of. And Betts would obviously fill a need in Atlanta (CF or 2B, really.) I don't think a 1-1 swap is likely or reasonable, which is why I asked what else would need to be added. But by all means, go pretend Daniel Murphy's a baseball player again.


Gattis is not what the Sox need. We've got a DH and by all accounts Swihart is going to be crazy good. There is a good chance the Braves and Sox chat trade this winter though. Lots of reports in Boston that the Sox are keen on Heyward. The reports are delightfully vague so what kind of return they would be willing to give the Braves is not discussed but Heyward is the guy that would fit the Sox.

The funny part here is that for all the talk about the Sox having a glut of outfielders the Sox don't actually have a glut of "good" outfielders. Bradley hasn't hit, Nava is a bench guy, Betts is unproven, Victorino can't stay healthy, Cespedes can't get on base. There is no one in that list that the Sox can't improve on but at the same time I think giving away Betts or Bradley at this stage is a bad idea.
   8. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4784678)
You'd have to throw in something with Betts to get Heyward.
   9. The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4784681)
I'd also be thrilled to take Christian Vazquez on my team. If he can tread water at bat, he will be valuable. The Sox have one too many catchers, if anything.

I suppose a lot still ends up depending on Bradley. I agree with Cherington that "two CF" is a good model for the Sox. But, it remains to be seen whether that should be Bradley/Castillo or Castillo/Betts. Naturally, given this year's results, the devil you don't know yet seems better than the devil you know, and Castillo CF/Betts RF sounds tempting. But I think you want to be really sure before you give up on Bradley CF/Castillo RF, since you'd end up being wasteful if it turns out you jettisoned Bradley early and committed Betts to an easier position than he could potentially be playing. (That latter point does assume Betts is a plausible option at 3B.)
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4784688)
Heyward makes a lot of sense for the Sox for 2016 onward, but less sense for them (or the Braves) to trade for him for 2015.

(edited to fix years)
   11. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4784690)
You'd have to throw in something with Betts to get Heyward.


I can see both fanbases hating such a trade when it was made and loving it after the fact.

I'd also be thrilled to take Christian Vazquez on my team. If he can tread water at bat, he will be valuable. The Sox have one too many catchers, if anything.


Vazquez has the same problem as Bradley, he can't hit. Bradley's track record at the plate is better but Vazquez is just more aesthetically pleasing (he grounds out instead of striking out). I think the Sox can carry one of those guys in the lineup next year but not both unless one of them starts to hit.
   12. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4784700)
I can see both fanbases hating such a trade when it was made and loving it after the fact.


If you believe WAR, and I assume Cherington and his "two CF" theories would, Jason Heyward is one of the five most valuable players in the league. Atlanta is not blind to the value he brings with his glove.
   13. villageidiom Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4784709)
Your base stupidity as a Mets fan notwithstanding, Evan Gattis fills a need with Boston (C/DH) unless there's some super prospect in the Red Sox system that I am unaware of.
Having players at a position has yet to dissuade Cherington from acquiring another player. That's how the Red Sox ended up with 46 outfielders in the first place.

But, yeah, Swihart and Vazquez. And some DH guy.
   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4784711)
If you believe WAR, and I assume Cherington and his "two CF" theories would, Jason Heyward is one of the five most valuable players in the league. Atlanta is not blind to the value he brings with his glove.


Agreed and I think that's why the Sox are interested and why in the long run fans here would love it. The sports radio meatheads around here would frame such a trade as "the Sox traded the unlimited potential of Mookie Betts for a .260 hitter with fewer home runs than Brett Gardner!" so you'd have lots of ########.

Likewise I think Brave fans would be upset about trading a player as good as Heyward (and based on what I saw three years ago very popular as well). Betts could wind up being awfully good. I've been a bit of a skeptic but he has improved in the outfield rapidly and he's a dynamic player in the mold of Ellsbury. Don't know if he'll turn out that good but wouldn't be shocked if he was.
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4784730)
What is so interesting about the Red Sox right now is that they actually did what a lot of fans always say they would do...but it never actually happens: once the team thought they weren't going anywhere in 2014, they made, like, seven trades, got a few interesting young big leaguers, and a couple of interesting prospects, and got started on 2015 right away. This is a team with a crazy amount of prospects in the upper minors or on the parent club, and they need to start sorting out what to do with it. They also need to figure out which pieces are going to be superior to the others.

C: They have Vazquez for 2015, and Swihart will be ready by 2016
1B: Napoli, with nothing in the system behind him, really
2B: Pedroia, with two very interesting prospects at 2B (Sean Coyle and Wendell Rijo, though Rijo is several years behind Coyle).
3B: Who friggin' knows. Middlebrooks is doing nothing to help himself in 2014. He sucks. Cecchini had a tough first part of 2014 in AAA, but is hitting for average and power now in AAA. Bogaerts could also play 3B next year.
SS: Bogaerts is probably the SS entering 2015, and he is still very young, but I think everybody is confused about him right now. Marrero in AAA can pick it with anybody in baseball, but has strugled the last month or so at AAA at the plate. 2015 is a decisive year for him as a prospect.
OF: Betts has had as good a last two years as anybody in the minors. He has been spectacular everywhere, and he is very young. Bradley was a hitter all the way until 2014, and his defense is elite. It is hard to throw him out yet. Castillo is a wildcard. There is a guy in the low minors, Rafael Devers, who is looking like the next big possibility for the organization. A power bat who is moving up quickly, and well. Victorino has one year left. An outfield next year of Castillo, Betts, and Bradley would be very exciting, tons of upside...but scary unpredictable!
DH: Ortiz for two more years
P: Buchholz is suddenly Cy Friggin' Young again, and the team has him for up to three years on team options if they like him. Joe Kelly has looked good, and is young. De La Rosa, Ranaudo, Webster, Workman, Barnes, Owens, Wright, Johnson, and the guy the team got for Andrew Miller (Rodriguez) are all legit prospects between AA and the majors. What do you do with all of them?
RP: Who knows. Uehara looks like toast lately. Layne, Tazawa, and a few of the starters listed above (Workman, probably) will be part of the 2015 bullpen. Ut wouldnt surprise me to see Miller re-signed this off-season. It's very hard to say.

This is a team with money to spend, a lot of prospects to deal, and a handful of young players who struggled in 2014 when thrown into the fire, but who have tremendous upside in 2015 (especially Bogaerts, Bradley, Webster, and De La Rosa). It would not surprise me to see this team be extremely good in 2015.
   16. Nasty Nate Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4784737)
3B: Who friggin' knows. Middlebrooks is doing nothing to help himself in 2014. He sucks. Cecchini had a tough first part of 2014 in AAA, but is hitting for average and power now in AAA. Bogaerts could also play 3B next year.

Holt is part of the 3B depth, especially because they presumably won't need him for OF depth as much as they did this year.
   17. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4784767)
Having players at a position has yet to dissuade Cherington from acquiring another player. That's how the Red Sox ended up with 46 outfielders in the first place.


It may not be a fit. I don't see the Braves trading their most popular home-grown player, who is at least nominally a "stealth MVP candidate" due to his defensive value, right before going into their new stadium. I think they extend Heyward and probably let Justin Upton walk (regrettably.) The Braves' stated off season goal, per the official stenographer over at the AJC, is to dump BJ Upton for whatever they can get and trade Evan Gattis to an AL team that needs a DH and will return a "king's ransom" in prospects or ML ready players. Now, I don't know that Gattis is worth a "king's ransom" but I do think they'll look to move him for a young OF bat. And they say they want to go to the AL with him (I'd at least inquire about Pederson in LA, given their dearth of catching out there.)

I don't really know any minor league system other than the Braves, in depth. So I'm sort of trolling AL fan bases to see what might be available in return for Gattis. Realistically.
   18. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4784793)
1B: Napoli, with nothing in the system behind him, really


Craig is the in-house candidate to back up Napoli in 2015 and replace him in 2016 if Napoli is not re-signed. Craig is also the back up for Ortiz.
   19. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4784795)
Now, I don't know that Gattis is worth a "king's ransom" but I do think they'll look to move him for a young OF bat.


The Red Sox are probably not your organization. The Sox do not have much in the way of outfield bats. I think they would view Betts as being a key part of a deal for a Stanton type or starting in Boston next year. Other than that the only guy they have that warrants attention is a kid in Hi A ball named Manuel Margot. He had a strong year but he's probably far enough from the majors to be unappealing to Atlanta and high enough upside that the Sox would want to wait and see.

Beyond those guys the Sox have a couple of Jonny Gomes if they are lucky types (Bryce Brentz, Alex Hassan), an intriguing guy who probably isn't enough to land Gattis (Henry Ramos) and a possible conversion (current third baseman Garin Cecchini).
   20. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4784806)
In #16 and #18, I wrote too quickly. Craig is an interesting guy - I'm not sure where the ABs come from unless you assume Napoli and Ortiz miss a fair amount of time the next two years (not a terrible assumption, BTW). And I think Holt is a useful player, but not an everyday player. He is a supersub, IMO. He's been weak at the plate over the past 40 games or so, poor K/BB ratio, OPS barely above 500. He's a valuable player for the roster, but if he is your third baseman, you have work to do...

I also think there is a lot of talent in the organization that is teed up to be traded before Spring Training 2015. It will be a fun off-season for us Red Sox fans, and because of the three rings in the last 10 years, I think most Boston fans are willing to be patient for a year or two if it lines the planets up for another run for a ring.
   21. The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4784819)
Just glancing at AL C/DH depth charts:

BAL: I doubt they want to bench Wieters very often.
NYY: Stuck with McCann, and I don't think they'd even want to platoon McCann with Gattis C vs. L/DH vs. R, at least not yet.
TB: Probably happy with the Pitch-Framing All-Stars... but it's not impossible. They do theoretically need a big bat, and they like positional versatility. Would probably depend in large part on how they evaluate Gattis defensively, both at C and elsewhere.
TOR: Dioner is signed for next year, playing fine, hits lefties better. Probably not a good fit.
CHW: Huge holes at both C and DH.
CLE: Yan is very good; not a good fit.
DET: Probably would consider a catching change, but probably also think (lefty-hitting) Avila is a big defensive/"grit" asset. V-Mart at DH is a free agent. Could work.
KC: No need.
MIN: Just extended Kurt Suzuki.
LAA: Already have a righty offense-first catcher. Not strong at DH, but I still don't see it.
HOU: Castro is playing badly (and hits lefty), but he was really good last year, and Carter at DH is a key piece for them. Don't see it.
OAK: I dunno, what's Gattis's swing plane?
SEA: Fine with Zunino.
TEX: Sure, they need everything.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4784829)
DET: Probably would consider a catching change, but probably also think Avila is a big defensive/"grit" asset. V-Mart at DH is a free agent. Could work.


The problem there is that Detroit doesn't have too many prospects of any significant value.
   23. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4784830)
Texas has a big 3B prospect in the high minors, right?
   24. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4784835)
Now, I don't know that Gattis is worth a "king's ransom" but I do think they'll look to move him for a young OF bat.


Sounds to me like there might be a deal to be made with the Pirates. Martin's a FA this offseason, and he's going to get too much money and too many years from somebody (probably LA), and the Pirates certainly have good OF depth.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4784838)
Texas has a big 3B prospect in the high minors, right?


Yeah, Gallo. He might end up as a 1B, though.

The Rangers also have a very good upper-minors catching prospect in Jorge Alfaro. Chirinos seems like at worst a respectable temp, so they might just stand pat until Alfaro's ready.
   26. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4784852)
Yeah, the Pirates and Dodgers fit, if they don't go to the AL. But they're pimping him out as an AL DH/C combo right now. (Of course, they're also pinning this on the talking point that Christian Bethancourt is a ML starter in 2015, so they might be trying to convince someone that he's a real prospect as well.)
   27. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: September 03, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4784866)
DET: Probably would consider a catching change, but probably also think (lefty-hitting) Avila is a big defensive/"grit" asset. V-Mart at DH is a free agent. Could work.


Any time I think about a Braves-Tigers deal, I imagine how badly Detroit might salivate over Craig Kimbrel. I don't want him traded, and he just got a spiffy contract, but it seems like the Tigers' bullpen has been a Superfund site for the last decade. Fixing it with Kimbrel...a team could get awfully desperate to do that.
   28. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 03, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4784892)
Any time I think about a Braves-Tigers deal, I imagine how badly Detroit might salivate over Craig Kimbrel


What do the Tigers have to pillage in return for Kimbrel?
   29. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: September 03, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4784897)

What do the Tigers have to pillage in return for Kimbrel?


Honestly, I don't know. I'm a lot like you, in that I don't follow other teams' farm systems that well. This time last year the conversation could have started with Castellanos, but he's not that appealing at the moment.
   30. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: September 03, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4784912)
OF: Betts has had as good a last two years as anybody in the minors. He has been spectacular everywhere, and he is very young. Bradley was a hitter all the way until 2014, and his defense is elite. It is hard to throw him out yet. Castillo is a wildcard. There is a guy in the low minors, Rafael Devers, who is looking like the next big possibility for the organization. A power bat who is moving up quickly, and well. Victorino has one year left. An outfield next year of Castillo, Betts, and Bradley would be very exciting, tons of upside...but scary unpredictable!
There's also Cespedes.
   31. The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 07:09 PM (#4784961)
Followup:
Cherington likewise didn’t rule out the possibility of Betts at third base completely — but he did make it sound like an unlikely roster outcome.

“We haven’t had that discussion. I think, obviously, he signs as a shortstop, moves to second base, got very comfortable there, and then moved to the outfield this year. We have a lot of confidence in his ability to play second and the outfield, and obviously we think he’s going to be a really good defensive player and a good baserunner,” said Cherington. “We haven’t discussed the left side of the infield yet. I don’t expect to. I guess I can’t completely rule it out. I don’t expect to. We’ll likely focus on either one of the outfield spots or second base, and obviously on this team, second base is hopefully locked up.”
   32. Norcan Posted: September 03, 2014 at 11:15 PM (#4785091)

The Red Sox are probably not your organization. The Sox do not have much in the way of outfield bats. I think they would view Betts as being a key part of a deal for a Stanton type or starting in Boston next year. Other than that the only guy they have that warrants attention is a kid in Hi A ball named Manuel Margot. He had a strong year but he's probably far enough from the majors to be unappealing to Atlanta and high enough upside that the Sox would want to wait and see.


I'm a big, big fan of Margot. I'm not sure if this is what happened but I think his improvement might have stemmed from learning how o carry his batting practice swing into games. Early in the season, when he was erratic and not hitting for much power, it didn't appear that he was taking his batting practice swing into games. In batting practice, he'd stay back and hit with leverage but in the game, he'd be lunging forward and hitting off his front leg. The inability isn't uncommon. From some of the highlights during his hot stretch when he hit for contact, average and power, it appeared he had made that transition. As a no-doubt CF who can be a threat on the bases and with the bat, he has to be one of the top-5 center field prospects in baseball.

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