Xander Bogaerts

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

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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.

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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

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.