Oct 10, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington watches the team during a workout in preparation for the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Cherington's offseason workout

Ben Cherington will soon don his official Red Sox jogging suit to busy himself with non-stop activity regarding the dismal 2014 team that was presented for your viewing pleasure. Ben should have an exceptional workout this off-season as trades are contemplated, free agents (how can they be “free?”) assessed and the ever important evaluations take place on who moves up or down on the corporate depth chart.

Cherington has not been bashful about blowing up the Red Sox roster. The Nick Punto trade demonstrated that tendency. For 2014 the roster turnover has been staggering for a championship team with a revolving door of admitted failures, pending free agents and testing of young players. The off-season should be Hot Stove at its finest.

Patience is traditionally in very short supply in Red Sox Nation as fans and media have a propensity for instant gratification with those rising through the system or acquired in a trade. That brings up what to do with Jackie Bradley, Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts and just about the entire roster.

Jul 30, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Xander Bogaerts (2) bats during the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

At what point do you see a flat line and decide that the most appropriate course of action is to end baseball life support? Can scouts, media, fans and assorted baseball kibitzers be so obviously wrong on the merits of the three mentioned?

There are a few that if they were stocks would have sold stamped on their passports. So I might as well put in my one cent’s worth (adjusted to inflation) comments. Pay attention, Ben.

Middlebrooks appears totally lost at the plate. His performance in Boston has been beyond dismal. And even worst is the fact he was doing little at Pawtucket in 2014 with a slash line of .231/.277/.375 and a strikeout rate surpassing 25%. The power was four home runs and only eight RBI. After two seasons of minimal returns the time has arrived to bid adieu to Middlebrooks. The Sox have bolstered the right-hand bat situation with some moves of note so maybe Will and Jenny can honeymoon in Japan for a year?

Aug 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (16) throws out Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki (not pictured) in the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Boston defeated Toronto 4-3 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Bogaerts has been given all the soothing PR – at least in the media – so the assumption is that XB will stay at short or maybe third? All the good of the 2013 late season and playoffs by Bogaerts vaporized during a disappointing 2014. XB will not be tossed aside since the upside potential is worth the wait unless Troy Tulowitzki is in the picture. I’d ship him in a package for Tulo in a heartbeat.

The Red Sox recent addition of Rusney Castillo has the potential for a logjam in the outfield. Personally I find it delightful to have excess at any position since it encourages competition and does provide valuable trade chips. This brings up Bradley.

Do you sell low? Boston just may have given up on the one-dimensional (defense) Bradley. Would a change of scenery help? Or, just maybe, it becomes a classic example of Bradley being a 4-A player. My assumption is the moves the Red Sox and Cherington have made regarding the outfield has placed Bradley on a short list to add “ex” to his Red Sox years.

How about Mookie Betts? Is he part of some type of immense package to acquire a front-line starter or the ever mentioned Giancarlo Stanton? Betts, to this observer, appears to be the real deal for batting first, but I can think of about seventy-two million reasons why that may not happen. I’d love to see the Sox hold onto this kid. Pay attention, Ben, and remember I touted World Com as a great buy.

Allen Craig has a multi-year contract and, like a lesser extent of Bradley, is at a low point in value. Craig’s 2014 season was not up to his usual standards so I expect Boston to hold on especially considering his right-hand hitting value.

Yoenis Cespedes is an interesting acquisition. A RH impact bat with free swinging tendencies. Middlebrooks with contact. The guy has a real flair about him and is already cementing himself as a fan favorite. The arm and prodigious home runs. Jack Clark with a bit more talent. Be interesting to see what takes place in the world of contracts with Cespedes this off-season.

Koji Uehara has fallen back to Earth recently and the assumption is Boston will not give out a $15M qualifying offer, but attempt to negotiate a two-year deal more appropriated to a 40 year-old closer not named Mariano Rivera. With September around the corner a late season trade is not out of the question. Let’s not forget about Andrew Miller. Miller was a real plus and could be a future closer. Dust off the wallet, Ben, and bring him back.

The pitching cupboard is a collection of what appears number four or five starters. Brandon Workman has pitched himself off the island and into contention for a relief slot. Allen Webster, Joe Kelly and Rubby De La Rosa show signs of stardom and signs of Felix Doubront. Clay Buchholz is that man of mystery. You may get lights out or lit up with Buchholz. What is missing is that top gun and that gun is now employed by the A’s. Ben – go get him. And don’t forget about James Shields.

Aug 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There is work to be done by Ben Cherington. Another sub .500 season and John Farrell could be on the executioner’s block with Cherington in the waiting room.

So 2014 will pass into the failure column and RSN is not really in panic mode. There are the usual rumblings, but the citizens know there is talent, see some money being tossed around, realize a big trade or FA signing may be in the works and look towards a return to the promised land.

Cherington has a real workout regimen in place and has already hit the infield sod running. I like his moves. I like the risk taking. His slump of 2014 may lead to recovery in 2015. I’m looking in that direction.

Again, if 2015 falls apart, look for Farrell to add to the jobless figures.

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Tags: Ben Cherington Boston Red Sox Feature

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