Tag: Will Middlebrooks

Will Padres’ Upton-Kemp-Myers Push to Win Now Pay off Big or Backfire?

If it wasn’t obvious before, it certainly is now: The San Diego Padres are going for it in 2015. Like, really going for it, so much so that they have acquired an entirely new starting outfield made up of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and now Justin Upton—just in the past week.

The man behind all the manic maneuvers? New general manager A.J. Preller, who was hired only four months ago, in August, to try to revitalize a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006.

“A month and a half into his first offseason as general manager, A.J. Preller has already introduced himself as one of the more aggressive front-office types in the game,” writes AJ Cassavell for Sports on Earth. “And one thing is very clear: He wants to win now.”

The Padres, suddenly and undoubtedly, are relevant again, thanks to all of these new big-name additions—Preller also traded for All-Star catcher Derek Norris from the Oakland Athletics on Thursday evening—but is this avalanche of activity going to work out?

Or could so much turnover in such a short period of time backfire on Preller and the Padres?

While there are questions to be answered and likely still more moves to be made, of this we can be sure: The Padres offense will be better in 2015. It almost has to be just by default, but now it’s going to be way, waaay better.

After all, San Diego scored just 535 runs last year—dead last in MLB by a wide margin—and the club’s aggregate triple-slash line was look-away hideous: .226/.292/.342.

To put that in context: Those first two triple-slash numbers rank among the very worst in baseball history since the end of the dead-ball era in 1920. That .226 batting average was 14th-worst in that span, and the .292 on-base percentage was 21st-worst.

All three of Kemp, Myers and Upton are right-handed power-hitters, which should provide a huge—and much-needed—boost.

But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee offensive success. Remember: The Padres still have to try to make contact with the baseball at hitter-hell Petco Park, which is death to righty swingers in particular. And all of the players Preller has brought aboard in the past week happen to hit from the right side.

“If you have an imbalance…you don’t want to flip it too far the other way,” Preller said recently via Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. “I think ideal world is you leave [manager] Buddy (Black) with enough pitching and try to find a way to get a few more bats.”

Maybe San Diego’s lineup is too righty-heavy?

There’s also the fact that the club’s outfield defense could be a concern, as none of Kemp, Myers or Upton is more than an average defender, and they’ll have to cover an extremely spacious outfield, to boot.

Can Kemp’s reportedly arthritic hips handle center field? Or will the Padres play the younger, fresher Myers there? Or maybe San Diego will put Cameron Maybin to use by letting him patrol center with his athleticism and range, thus perhaps shifting Myers to first base?

It certainly could help if Myers, who has experience as a catcher and third baseman in the minors, could handle that position. Otherwise, the Padres appear for now to be stuck at first with injury-prone Yonder Alonso and his 27 career homers in 405 games.

While it seems that third base also could present a problem, madman Preller already has addressed that potential Yangervis Solarte-sized hole by swapping one of his recently acquired catchers for yet another righty slugger, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

That said, despite his power, Will Middlebrooks is far from a sure thing, having endured injuries and struggles at the plate the past two years, hitting just .213/.265/.364 in that time for the Boston Red Sox.

Then there’s the issue of what San Diego does at shortstop, currently manned by glove-only Clint Barmes.

In other words, despite the additions of Kemp, Myers, Norris and now Upton and Middlebrooks, Preller, it seems, isn’t finished. He can’t be.

After all, why stop now, when the roster is overstocked with excess outfielders who have to become bait for even more trades? Lookin’ at you, Rymer Liriano, Seth Smith, Will Venable and Carlos Quentin!

With Kemp and Myers both under team control through 2019, there’s no way the Padres can carry so many outfielders.

Look for Preller to spin at least a couple of those names above to obtain either a shortstop and/or some rotation depth after Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and the ever-injured duo of Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow.

A former top prospect, Liriano could command a nice little return, and Smith’s team-friendly contract has drawn interest, according to Lin. Then again, Smith looks like the only capable lefty bat on the roster at the moment.

As for the Upton deal, it represents both a bigger push for 2015 and a bigger risk, because he is a free agent this time next year. The Padres could try to sign him long term, of course, but if not, at least they’ll get a compensation draft pick out of it in 2016.

Thanks to Preller, the Padres now have overtaken the Dodgers, Red Sox and Chicago White Sox as the most active team so far this offseason. And there’s almost certainly more to come out of—and more into—San Diego.

There still are holes to be filled and problems to be answered. Preller has work to do, trades to make and players to sign.

But the Padres are better now than they were a week ago, maybe even better enough to matter in the NL West—home to the presumptive favorite Dodgers and World Series defending San Francisco Giants—for the first time in years.

Before that judgment can be made, though, let’s see what else Preller has up his sleeves, which are firmly rolled up.


Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of MLB.com, Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Boston Red Sox’s 3 Major Post-Deadline Roster Battles

In the post-trading deadline world that the Boston Red Sox now occupy, it’s best to watch games with an eye on 2015 rather than the scoreboard.

The Sox still boast plenty of talented players, to be sure. But there are going to be many rough stretches in the coming weeks as young players are allowed to take their licks and sink or swim at the major league level.

It’s a process we’ve seen all season long in regards to Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and we’re going to see even more post-prospects attempt to make adjustments at the MLB level now. In fact, there are nearly as many “open” positions and roster spots for 2015 as there are set ones, and prospects, young players and veterans are already auditioning for next year.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three most prominent positional battles Red Sox players are fighting right now as we try to ascertain what this team might look like on Opening Day 2015.


Third Base: Will Middlebrooks vs. Brock Holt

In 2012, Middlebrooks was a promising young rookie hitting .285/.325/.509, serving as one of the lone bright spots on a team that was floundering until he succumbed to injury. We saw glimpses of a player we thought could be the third baseman and No. 5 hitter of the future.

In 2014, the role of spark plug third baseman has fallen to Holt, who’s perhaps the most incredible story on the Sox this season. The 26-year-old has hit .297/.344/.414 in 362 PA, playing every infield and every outfield position for Boston for at least four games.

Holt will likely still see some time in the outfield moving forward, but with Yoenis Cespedes playing every day and Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. also clamoring for playing time, third base is perhaps Holt’s best option moving forward. That puts him in direct competition with Middlebrooks for the rest of 2014.

It may be tempting to suggest pairing Middlebrooks and Holt in a strict platoon, but that won’t fully answer our questions about whether “WMB” can be a significant part of the organization moving forward.

Middlebrooks has hit just .195/.290/.329 in the majors this season, but he’s only received 93 PA thanks in part to injuries. That being said, his .231/.277/.375 line in Triple-A is hardly inspiring.

The memories of Middlebrooks in 2012 are sweet, but we have nearly 500 PA of evidence since then suggesting he’s not an everyday major league player. The next seven weeks could be the last time he gets a shot to prove otherwise in Boston, and it’s only fair to give him as much playing time as possible before casting him aside.

However, it’s not really fair to take away that playing time from Holt, who’s trying to shake the “super sub” label and prove that he deserves to be in a lineup every day.

While his overall line is still quite impressive, Holt has hit just .264/.312/.345 over his last 20 games, suggesting the league has adjusted to his red-hot start. Holt’s also had just four extra-base hits during that span, and he hasn’t stolen a base since Jun 17.

It will be difficult for Farrell and crew to juggle playing time for both WMB and Holt from here on out, and the newly acquired Kelly Johnson will need to see a handful of PA too. But at this point, it’s likely that one of Middlebrooks or Holt will start 2015 as Boston’s regular third baseman, and the Sox should have a better idea of who should sit atop the depth chart by season’s end.


Center Field: Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Mookie Betts

Just Thursday, Betts was sent back down to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Johnson on the 25-man roster. That might lead you to think that the battle for center field has been decided, but that may not be the case.

We’re only three weeks away from rosters expanding in September, and when that happens, Betts will be back in Boston. If Bradley isn’t hitting better by then, he could lose substantial time to Betts down the stretch.

You need only watch Bradley play defense for a few innings before you understand why the Sox have been so patient with him this season. He’s a legit 70 or 75 defender on the 20-80 scouting scale, with plus-plus instincts, a great arm and enough speed to track down balls in the gaps.

Red Sox fans are used to good center field defense between the likes of Johnny Damon, Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, but Bradley is something else altogether.

Yet as good as Bradley’s been in the field, he’s been equally bad at the plate. The 24-year-old is hitting just .216/.288/.296 in 359 PA, striking out in 28.4 percent of his appearances. He did hit .278/.325/.347 in July, but he’s been tough to watch in recent weeks.

Betts, meanwhile, just keeps raking. He’s hitting .321/.408/.496 in 157 Triple-A PA after torching Double-A earlier this season, and he’s held his own in 44 MLB PA too. He has more power, more speed and a significantly better hit tool, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he’d be worse at the plate than Bradley’s been for most of the year.

What we don’t know is how good Betts can be defensively. He’s new to the outfield, and while he has the speed to play center field, he lacks Bradley’s arm and doesn’t have great instincts in the outfield yet.

But while center field is a defense-first position, Bradley’s going to need to become at least a competent hitter if he wants to remain in the lineup. If Bradley keeps playing like this, Betts could leapfrog him on the 2015 depth chart next month.


Rotation: Brandon Workman vs. Allen Webster vs. Anthony Ranaudo

For better or for worse, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Rubby De La Rosa have three rotation spots locked up for the remainder of the season. Spots four and five are open to a three-way battle between a trio of young, right-handed back-end starter candidates: Workman, Webster and Ranaudo.

Workman occupies one spot right now, and while he has the most MLB experience, he also has the lowest ceiling of this trio. The right-hander put up a 4.97 ERA in 41.2 innings at the MLB level last season, but his FIP was down at 3.43, and he struck out 26.1 percent of all batters he faced. He made three starts in 2013 as opposed to 17 relief appearances.

2014 hasn’t gone as well for Workman. The 25-year-old has a 4.31 ERA supported by a 4.51 FIP in Boston, and his strikeout rate has fallen to 18.2 percent. Workman’s also walking more batters, inducing fewer ground balls and allowing more fly balls, which is generally a recipe for disaster in Fenway Park.

Webster has the highest upside of the trio, but he is also the least consistent by a long shot. His fastball/changeup combination inspires visions of a No. 3 starter, but he lacks a reliable third pitch and his command can desert him at a moment’s notice.

The 24-year-old has pitched quite well in Triple-A this year, posting a 3.10 ERA in 122 innings and cutting his walk rate from a year ago. He’s missing fewer bats than ever, though, and he’s completely fallen apart at the major league level once again this season. It’s fair to question his composure on the mound.

Ranaudo represents the middle ground between Workman and Webster: He has more raw talent than the former, but he is perhaps more ready to slot into a major league rotation right now than the latter. The LSU product has had a tremendous year in Triple-A, posting a 2.41 ERA in 119.1 innings and drastically cutting his walk rate since a mechanical adjustment in early June.

His stuff is most certainly inferior to Webster’s, and he lacks Workman’s impressive curveball. But Ranaudo is composed on the mound, generally knows where the ball is going now and can get major leaguers out when he keeps his fastball down in the zone.

While this trio is competing for two spots right now, it’s more likely that there will be room for just one in the rotation when the 2015 season begins. If Workman and Webster keep struggling, I’d expect Ranaudo to replace one or the other on a more permanent basis by the end of August, and he could be best positioned to see starts in April of next season.

With additional arms like Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Edwin Escobar chomping at the bit in Triple-A, one of Webster, Workman or Ranaudo had best separate himself from the pack soon if he wants to profile as a significant part of Boston’s future.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Rumors: David Price, Jake Peavy and More Buzz Around League

Once the MLB All-Star Game and break comes and goes, well, you can bet the trade market is going to heat up more than the New York City blacktop on a July afternoon. If anything, the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics was an indication of a big summer of wheeling and dealing to come. 

And yes, the whispers are already starting. Below, you’ll find three juicy rumors to whet your appetite until the main course arrives.


Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox

Will Middlebrooks just can’t seem to put it all together. Before going down with a broken finger, the 25-year-old was hitting .197 with two home runs and nine RBI in 21 games this season. There’s potential for far more, of course, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations just yet.

Still, there’s been buzz around the third baseman, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

The Red Sox have been receiving decent trade interest in recent days in third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who’s on injury rehab following his slow start in Boston. But while he looks like a logical trade candidate who may benefit from a change of scenery, Red Sox people are said to seem quite reluctant to deal Middlebrooks.

There could be two reasons for this. The first one is fairly obvious. Middlebrooks, only 25, has big power and it isn’t easy to come by power bats in baseball these days.

The other possible reason involves a bit more supposition. Middlebrooks, if he can show something in the second half, could be seen as a possible piece in case Boston tries to make a run at Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton.

At some point, somebody is going to rescue Stanton from the Miami Marlins, so if the Red Sox indeed harbor secret hopes of being the team to do so, keeping hold of Middlebrooks as a potential trade chip in that deal makes perfect sense. 

Or maybe they just aren’t ready to let him go. Or maybe they’re trying to inflate his value by projecting a reluctance to move him. Or maybe…

…We’ll just have to wait to see what happens, because who knows what they’re actually thinking?


David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

Once again, David Price finds himself as the subject of trade rumors. And once again, it appears the Tampa Bay Rays could end up holding on to him for one reason or another.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has more:

And Buster Olney of ESPN says the team is playing the waiting game as it decides whether or not it can make a run at the postseason this year:

At 41-50 and 8.5 games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, the Rays don’t exactly seem likely to reach the postseason at this juncture. Then again, the Rays have a way of becoming very hard to beat in August and September every year. And don’t look now, but they did just go 9-2 on a road trip and are 17-8 in their last 25.

Price himself thinks the Rays have figured it out, as he told Mike Bauman of MLB.com:

Obviously, we expected to play better baseball at the beginning of the year. We expected to play up to this caliber. This is the type of baseball we expected to play. I don’t know if anybody expected us to hit it the way we are now. We base ourselves off pitching and defense, and we’ve definitely improved in both of those aspects. We’ll take whatever our hitters give us.

In many ways, the Price situation is a no-lose situation for the Rays. If they think they can get back in the race, they’ll be keeping a player who is currently 8-7 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 159 strikeouts. If they deal him, they’re going to add some very nice chips in the farm system, the bread and butter of the team’s organizational structure. 

At the moment, it looks like the Rays’ recent play and the fact that they may not get the huge package they would want in exchange for Price means he’s likely to remain in Tampa Bay—just like every other time his name has popped up in rumors. 


Jake Peavy, Boston Red Sox

Things have not gone well for Jake Peavy this year. The Boston Red Sox hurler is 1-7 with a 4.64 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 110.2 innings pitched. Those numbers aren’t exactly screaming “come trade for me” to other teams, but according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Sox might have some suitors anyway:

According to a major league source, a few teams in the NL would have interest in Peavy if the Sox would provide some salary relief for the prorated portion of the $16 million he’s owed this season. Peavy can be a free agent after the season. “No team is going to give up a lot for him, but if the Red Sox want to move him to make room for a youngster like [Rubby] De La Rosa, they could do that,” said the source. It seems the Red Sox will hold on to Peavy, who pitched better in his last outing in front of a lot of scouts.

If the Sox are going to hold on to Peavy, it’s likely at least in part because they would be selling him for 20 cents on the dollar at this point. The hope will be that after recording four quality starts in his last five appearances, he’s turning a corner. 

Other teams might be convinced of that as well, but it sounds like they’ll still want a discount in any deal with Peavy. That leaves the Red Sox negotiating from a place of weakness, so Peavy remains likely to stick around in Beantown


Follow TRappaRT on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Red Sox’s Stephen Drew Signing Is Beginning of the End of Will Middlebrooks

In a bid to invigorate a slumping offense, the Red Sox signed former shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year contract Tuesday, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal broke.

While that will have to wait at least 10 days as Drew gets back into playing shape, per Red Sox skipper John Farrell via Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe, the reverberations of Drew’s signing are already being felt.

Namely, the end of Will Middlebrooks in Boston.

To understand why signing a shortstop would impact third baseman Middlebrooks‘ tenure in Boston, take a look at incumbent shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Just 21 years old, the Red Sox phenom burst on the scene, helping lead the team to a World Series victory in 2013 while playing third base, despite his natural position being shortstop. While his defense had been questionable to start 2014 and the power suspect, Bogaerts was still doing enough to rank fifth among all American League shortstops in wins above replacement (WAR).

Farrell tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal the solution is Bogaerts shifting to third base, although the right-hander could still see time at shortstop against left-handers. That’s a great solution in the interim while incumbent third baseman Will Middlebrooks is on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger.

But what happens when Middlebrooks comes off the DL?

Simple. He becomes a forgotten man in Boston.

It’s quite a fall from grace for Middlebrooks, who pushed Kevin Youkilis out of town with his strong play in the 2012 season, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham recollects. He ended the year hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs in 75 games. He appeared on the verge of giving Boston a young third baseman with raw power dripping off him.

Unfortunately for Middlebrooks, his sophomore campaign in 2013 saw him struggle to start the season, get demoted to Triple-A and eventually lose his third base job to Bogaerts as the team rolled to their third World Series championship in the past decade.

While Middlebrooks‘ power was still there with 17 homers in 94 games, he just didn’t have the contact skills or plate discipline to attack pitches he could do something with, as evidenced by his .227 average and 5.3 walk percentage.

So far, 2014 has been a terrible season for Middlebrooks. His most recent DL assignment is already his second of the season, and when he’s been in the lineup, he just hasn’t been hitting. He’s made strides in the plate discipline department, walking 8.5 percent of the time. But when you’re hitting .197, there’s only so far that plate discipline will take you.

And now, Drew’s back with the team. It’s difficult to imagine Middlebrooks keeping a spot on the roster when he returns because the team will need its backup infielder to be capable of playing shortstop, as MacPherson notes. Middlebrooks can’t do that and thusly appears to have been rendered expendable, MacPherson adds.

For now, Middlebrooks can be optioned to Triple-A, but there’s another problem on that front. The team has the No. 1 Red Sox prospect, per Bleacher Report’s Ben Carsley, playing third base in Triple-A in Garin Cecchini. That means that the two will have to share time at third base and likely designated hitter. It’s also possible that Middlebrooks sees some time at first base, where he started once last season for Boston.

The Drew signing only matters for 2014, so it’s possible that Middlebrooks is right back in Boston’s plans for 2015. However, that could change on a dime; the team could bring Drew back as a free agent this offseason, permanently installing Bogaerts at third base. The team could also bypass Middlebrooks in favor of Cecchini, so Middlebrooks‘ future in Boston is in serious doubt.

That could be to Boston’s gain, though. Middlebrooks‘ raw power is rare, and there are plenty of teams that would love to get an opportunity at turning him into a middle-of-the-order hitter. Middlebrooks may yet bring value to the team in being an intriguing power chip that Boston could use to fill its remaining holes (finding a center fielder, perhaps?)

Miami Marlins GM Dan Jennings, in particular, has admitted to being a big fan of Middlebrooks, as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Juan C. Rodriguez wrote in the offseason.

It just so happens that the Marlins may eventually have to trade Giancarlo Stanton due to the star right fielder’s increasing price tag, as the Sun-Sentinel explores.

It’s not the first time that Stanton has been linked to the Red Sox, as The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo explored that very possibility in spring training. Dangling Middlebrooks in a deal along with some of Boston’s best pitching prospects could very well bring the slugger to Boston.

Barring a big injury, the 2014 Red Sox will carry on without Will Middlebrooks as a significant part of the team. At age 25, time is running out for Middlebrooks to show he can be a valued member of a lineup.

His next chance to do so may not be in Boston.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Will Middlebrooks Injury: Updates on Red Sox 3B’s Fractured Finger and Return

It has been a nightmarish start to the season for 25-year-old Will Middlebrooks, and it’s about to get even worse. 

According WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, the Red Sox have placed the third baseman on the disabled list with a fractured finger:

WEEI’s Alex Speier provides comments from Middlebrooks:

“It’s been a long couple years. I’ve got to hang in there. Things will turn around — hopefully,” said Middlebrooks. “Just keep grinding it out.”

The play on which Middlebrooks suffered the fracture was unusual. With Middlebrooks drawn in to protect against a bunt, Kinsler smoked a ball at the third baseman.

“[Kinsler is] a guy, he’ll drop one down if you’re back. So I was playing up pretty close and he hit a screamer at me, obviously. It had some topspin. Kind of went with both hands for some reason to try to catch it. It went under my glove and just smoked me in the finger,” said Middlebrooks. “I thought it just bruised me, jammed me pretty good. It kept swelling and kept swelling throughout the game, and by the eighth I couldn’t get batting gloves on.”


“I think I’m pretty due for [a change of fortunes],” said Middlebrooks. “We’ll see.”

As he showed during his rookie campaign in 2012, Middlebrooks has immense talent. But he has struggled to find consistency ever since and is hitting just .197/.305/.324 with a brutal 28.1 strikeout percentage on the season after already spending time on the DL with a strained calf.

Manager John Farrell recently talked about the importance of getting the youngster going at the plate, via the Boston Herald‘s Michael Silverman:

We’ll see — we certainly need him to get going. The bottom third of that order has got to find a way to contribute a little more than it’s been. So hopefully today is a chance to jump-start it somewhat for Will.

Some, such as USA Today‘s Mike Lyoko, haven’t been nearly as optimistic and believe Middlebrooks’ future with the team may be numbered: 

In his stead, Brock Holt has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and will take over at the hot corner starting Saturday, as Speier noted: 

Holt is hitting .348/.429/.435 in 28 plate appearances for the Red Sox this season. With Middlebrooks struggling, and the Red Sox near the bottom of the AL in batting average, the former Pittsburgh Pirate has a real chance to carve out a significant role going forward. 

As for Middlebrooks, he will just be hoping this newest stint on the sideline gives him time to clear his head.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2014 Boston Red Sox: Biggest Winners and Losers of Spring Training

The Boston Red Sox are getting closer to starting the defense of their World Series title when they begin regular season play on March 31 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Some questions about the roster have been answered during their time in Fort Myers, Fla. However, new ones have appeared due to certain performances, and others still need to be figured out.

A few players have taken full advantage of their opportunity this spring, while others aren’t getting the results they were hoping for. Unfortunately, strong performances from some in Red Sox camp won’t end with a spot on the Opening Day roster.

With the 2014 season-opener less than a week away, let’s take a look at some of Boston’s biggest winners and losers from this spring.


All player statistics sourced from RedSox.com, unless otherwise noted.

Begin Slideshow

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress