Red Sox bring back Will Middlebrooks to play third base

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Those hoping the Red Sox would give top prospect Xander Bogaerts a shot should prepare to be disappointed. The team is instead recalling Will Middlebrooks to play third base, with Brandon Snyder going on the disabled list.

Middlebrooks had regained his stroke for Triple-A Pawtucket over the last week, hitting .333/.361/.545 with two homers in his last eight games. That followed a month of July in which he hit .238/.292/.390 in 105 at-bats. He hit .192/.228/.389 with nine homers and 25 RBI in 203 at-bats before being sent down in June.

Bogaerts was outhitting Middlebrooks in Triple-A, posting an .845 OPS to Middlebrooks’ .790 mark. Still, it seems as though the Red Sox prefer having him focus on shortstop for now. He had started at third base in just one of his last eight games for Pawtucket.

The Red Sox had been getting by with a Brock Holt-Snyder platoon at third base since trading Jose Iglesias, but that was nothing more than a stopgap situation until Middlebrooks or Bogaerts proved ready. If Middlebrooks struggles over the next couple of weeks, then maybe Bogaerts will get a look in September. However, if Middlebrooks hits, it’ll be his job the rest of the way.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves