BOSTON (CBS) – You know the Red Sox are struggling when they have 50 losses already on the season and they’ve reached this low point faster than they did with Bobby Valentine at the helm in 2012.
With their 4-0 loss Monday night to Chicago (their ninth shutout of the year, mind you) the team fell to 39-50 and currently sit 10 games back from both the division-leading Orioles and the second wild card.
They’re on pace for a 71-91 season so needless to say, barring a historic comeback, the 2014 season was fun while it lasted, but it’s more or less over. So now the focus and attention must shift to the future, and one player guaranteed to be a part of that future is infielder Xander Bogaerts.
As a 20-year-old late-season call up in 2013, Bogaerts split time at shortstop and third base and helped contribute to a World Series-winning team with his veteran-like demeanor and discipline at the plate.
The incumbent shortstop, Stephen Drew, and agent Scott Boras turned down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox in the offseason and went unsigned throughout the winter, so heading into spring training and the regular season it was Bogaerts’ job and Bogaerts’ job alone.
Bogaerts shined at the plate, reaching a high-water mark of a .304 batting average and .859 OPS, but struggled mightily in the field at shortstop. Internal griping from the pitchers and veterans led the organization to sign Drew on May 20 for a pro-rated $14.1 million, or roughly $10 million for just over four months of work.
Since that time it’s been all downhill for Bogaerts, who was never afforded the chance to “figure it out” at his natural position in the middle infield.
His average has plummeted to .238 and his OPS has dropped to .594, leading many to second guess the team’s decision to sign Stephen Drew, who’s not faring any better at the plate himself. Drew is batting .136 and has just 5 RBI in 23 games played.
Among the second-guessers is Jesse Spector of The Sporting News. He joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Rich Keefe (filling in for Adam Jones) Monday night to discuss, among other things, Xander Bogaerts.
“Bringing in Stephen Drew was pretty unnecessary when you think about it. Yeah Will Middlebrooks got hurt, but there were some other decent options there. Bogaerts had become your shortstop, and you sign Stephen Drew and that pushes Bogaerts back over to third base. In addition to thinking a little bit more about the field and putting that on him, maybe [the move] was a shot to his confidence.”
Spector thinks part of Bogaerts’ slump can be attributed to his youth, inexperience and pitchers adjusting to his strengths. However, the position switch is also a reason why.
“I’m not sure how much of the recipe of Bogaerts struggling is the move to third base and how much is just a young player going through the second time around the league has seen him, and pitchers making adjustments to him and him not being able to make the adjustments quite yet — I think it’s more of that. I don’t worry about Xander Bogaerts making those adjustments. I think that he’s a talented enough player, and a dynamic enough player to be successful at this level, but he’s going through a tough time right now.
“The positional switch does play a role in it. I don’t blame it entirely on that, but it plays a role,” Spector said in conclusion.
Listen below for the full discussion: