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Touching All the Bases

Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and the Awesome Progress of the Red Sox' Talented Young Players

Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you ...

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1. Xander Bogaerts is 21 years old. He's a rookie who has already played a meaningful role on a championship team. He's hitting .300/.391/.443 through his first 55 games, .341/.406/.549 over the last four weeks, .382/.443/.618 over the last two, and.462/.517/.731. He's on pace for approximately a dozen homers and 45 doubles. A kid who walked just once in 97 plate-appearances in Double A two years ago is now third in the American League in on-base percentage. It's all happening with Bogaerts, right now. The lofty expectations are being fulfilled rapidly and in real time, and the best part? The ceiling for what he can become may not even be in sight yet.

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2. I know I've said this on Boston Sports Live, but I'm not sure I've written it, and it's probably worth repeating anyway. Can we stop the foolish worrying about Bogaerts's mind-set with the move to third base? It's so contrived, and it insult a player who has handled everything thrown his way with beyond-his-years poise and maturity . The Red Sox did this exact thing during 2013 postseason -- Stephen Drew at shortstop, Bogaerts at third, Will Middlebrooks to purgatory -- and I seem to recall it turned out OK.

3. The Red Sox have moved up top prospect Mookie Betts to Pawtucket, putting the 21-year-old a step away from being an intriguing late-season addition to the big league roster. Betts, who graduated from the Sea Dogs with a .355/.443/.551 slash line, 22 steals, and 27 extra-base hits, played 54 games in Double A before getting moved up. That's 25 fewer games at that level than Bogaerts played over the 2012-13 seasons before advancing, and seven fewer games than Jackie Bradley Jr. played in Portland in '12 before sticking with the Red Sox out of camp the following spring. So yes, you could definitely say Betts is on the fast track.

4. Know what's encouraging about all of the help the Red Sox have received from the farm system during their recent winning streak? It's come from players who aren't among their elite prospects. Brock Holt and Rubby De La Rosa both lost their rookie status in previous seasons -- Holt had 72 plate appearances in the majors in 2012 as well as 2013, while De La Rosa actually pitched 60.2 innings for the '11 Dodgers, striking out 60. In fact, among SoxProspects.com's current top 10, only No. 7 Garin Cecchini, who had an encouraging cameo this weekend, and No. 8 Brandon Workman have played for the Red Sox this season. This best is yet to come.

5. If you have proper appreciation of this extraordinary 14-year run of success the Patriots have had, it's more than understandable to avoid acknowledging that perhaps Tom Brady has slipped ever-so-slightly. I happen to think he has -- to my eye, he doesn't sense the rush quite as well as he used to, and his accuracy was off more than I can ever recall at times last season. But to suggest he isn't among the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL right now is pure attention-bait, to the point that I'm not even going to link to the article. To put it another way: Swap his supporting cast and home-field with Drew Brees and let's see how each fares. That is not a trade the Patriots would ever even ponder making. They wouldn't even consider pondering it. And I'm not sure Peyton Manning does with the Patriots what Brady did last year, either.

housetomfinn62.jpg6. Tom House, the former Red Sox lefty who became Brady's personal quarterback coach after the death of Tom Martinez, had just a 1.43 K/BB ratio in his eight years in the majors. I'm not sure what that means, if it means anything at all. But even if he had masterful mechanics, it apparently didn't cover for issues with stuff and accuracy.

7. I'm not buying the Carmelo-to-the-Celtics rumor -- I'm just not how it would ever be feasible salary-wise since they'll also have Kevin Love on the roster, they'll have to pay Rajon Rondo, and they're obviously going to end up signing LeBron this summer.

8. Yasiel Puig was called up to the Dodgers a year ago today. In 157 games since: .326/.405/.559, 30 homers, 16 steals, and already a career's worth of headscratching plays, bat flips, and utter brilliance. What a baseball blessing it is to be able to be entertained by this guy.

9. Got only a single message on Twitter blaming the end of the Red Sox' losing streak on Stephen Drew, and it was delivered with appropriate snark. I call that a pleasant surprise. Then again, I've been detached from sports radio for most of the day. Long haul, people. Think about long haul.

10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

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According to Sports Illustrated, the Red Sox are on pace to have the worst-hitting outfield in baseball over the past 53 years. No worries. Nothing vintage Dewey can't solve. Or current 62-year-old Dewey for that matter. Did you know that in his final season with Baltimore -- right, the one we all try to forget happened -- he had a .393 on-base percentage? He will still a valuable offensive player even with his power mostly gone.