Xander Bogaerts

Could it be Xander Bogaerts time in Boston? (UPDATE: Not quite yet)


Jose Iglesias was fading offensively, but he was still a major part of the 2013 Red Sox when he was shipped out as part of the three-team Jake Peavy deal Tuesday night. In announcing the trade, the Red Sox declined to discuss the particularly of how he’d be replaced as the team’s third baseman against right-handers and backup shortstop, saying only that they’d likely make a callup Wednesday.

Even before the Iglesias trade, the Red Sox were being talked about as a suitor for the Phillies’ Michael Young, and he now seems like a legitimate fit with Iglesias gone.  He delivered his eighth homer for the Phillies on Tuesday, and he’s batting a solid .279/.345/.411 on the season. His defense, though, leaves much to be desired.

The Red Sox do have internal alternatives. Three of them, in fact:

– Will Middlebrooks – The team’s starting third baseman until a lengthy slump, combined with strong play from Iglesias, got him demoted to the majors in late June. He started off well for Triple-A Pawtucket, but he’s hit just .243/.297/.398 with 22 strikeouts in 103 at-bats in July. He came in at .192/.228/.389 with nine homers in 203 at-bats before being sent down.

– Brock Holt – Strictly a stopgap. Holt hasn’t hit up to expectations in Triple-A, coming in at .264/.328/.293 in 239 at-bats, but he did do a nice job during his stint with the Red Sox earlier this month, hitting .290 with three walks and just two strikeouts in 31 at-bats. Even though he didn’t have an extra-base hit, he managed to drive in eight runs. A nice thing about Holt is that he’s a left-handed batter, so he could be used in a true platoon with Brandon Snyder, who has been starting against lefties anyway. Unlike Middlebrooks, he also qualifies as a backup shortstop, though he’s not someone a team would want starting there for any length of time.

– Xander Bogaerts – The top prospect. The guy they wouldn’t trade for Cliff Lee. Bogaerts was left at shortstop all year until the Red Sox finally eased him over to third with five starts over the last couple of weeks. The 20-year-old has hit .295/.396/.491 with 14 homers between Double- and Triple-A this year, and he’s easily the hottest hitter in the group, coming in at .302/.423/.512 in July. He’s a better shortstop than Holt, and there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll prove adept at third base with more reps. Ideally, he’d get at least another 7-10 days to work at the position before his callup. The Red Sox, though, might not to wait.

Frankly, I don’t see how Middlebrooks can be Boston’s choice, not unless the team jettisons Snyder and replaces him with a backup middle infielder. Neither Middlebrooks nor Snyder can serve as a backup at shortstop and second. I suspect that the Red Sox will call up Holt and continue to work Bogaerts third base in Triple-A with the idea of giving him a look in mid-August, but I’d hardly be shocked if they just tried Bogaerts now. He’s a special talent, a lot like Manny Machado was last year when the Orioles called him up after just two games at third base in the minors. That worked out OK for them.


3:10 a.m. EDT update: Looks like the Holt guess was right. A Red Sox source told WEEI’s Rob Bradford that he’d be the initial choice to replace Iglesias on the roster

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.