BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox were shut out by the Houston Astros on Monday night, unable to score a run against one of the worst teams in baseball.
Boston could only muster four hits against Astros starter Brett Olberholtzer, continuing their struggles against left-handed pitchers. While the Red Sox offense is the best in baseball against righties, they dip to 15th against southpaws.
MLB.com’s Ian Browne joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Tuesday morning, and says a big part of Boston’s stuggles against lefties is due to the inconsistencies of first baseman Mike Napoli at the plate. Napoli has shown some power, but has not been what the Red Sox were expecting when they signed him over the offseason.
“He’s been a little bit of a disappointment. He hasn’t been as consistent as they had hoped,” Browne said of Napoli. “It’s funny that they tried to sign him a three-year deal, but they must be counting their lucky stars it was switched to a one-year deal. This doesn’t look like the guy you want playing first base the next couple years – there are just too many holes in his swing. I think they thought after he stopped catching every day his offense would spike up, and that just hasn’t happened.”
“He hasn’t been a huge disappointment, because he has helped them win some games with some late-game hits, but too many strikeouts and the consistency is just not what they hoped,” said Browne. “I don’t know if you find a right handed bat during the waiver period [to help against lefties]… but the quickest way would be for Napoli to start hitting.”
The Red Sox chose to add pitching at the trade deadline rather than a veteran bat like Philadelphia’s Michael Young. While Boston will likely explore their options on waivers over the next few weeks, Browne says that top prospect Xander Bogaerts may find his way to the Major Leagues soon.
“In their mind, Bogaerts is probably a week or two away, and I think they think he’ll offer them more in terms of energy and overall play than Michael Young (at the trade deadline) would have,” said Browne. “I think they’re getting him a little more seasoning (in Pawtucket) defensively at third base, and then we’ll see one of the more exciting prospects the Red Sox have had in a long time, and he’s right handed so that might help against lefties too.”
“He’s not the type of kid that is going to get rattled by the situation,” Browne said of Bogaerts, who is hitting .277 with eight homers, 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored in 48 games with the PawSox. “He’s full of self-confidence and thinks he belongs. He has a real calming presence, so I think this is the right kid to bring up.”
“If he comes up and hits .210 or something and they have to send him back down, I don’t think he’ll be really affected by it,” added Browne. “I don’t think it’s much of a risk.”
Also, what does Browne think of Boston’s acquisition of Jake Peavy? And who are his top picks for manager of the year? Listen in as Ian Browne joins Toucher & RIch: