Mookie Betts has been with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox for less than three weeks. He has an .875 OPS in 18 games, two home runs, and five stolen bases. He’s hitting .309 vs. right-handed pitching, and has nine RBI in 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
All told, a pretty good showing for the kid at the next level. John Farrell has noticed.
“I know Mookie Betts is swinging the bat well,” the Red Sox manager instead told reporters Saturday when he was asked about the progress of Andres Torres, the 36-year-old, veteran outfielder, signed to a minor league deal earlier this month. That unsolicited praise perhaps indicated that Betts is bound for Boston sooner than most expected.
“Not to create anything. I’m not suggesting anything other than we recognize and watch what he’s doing daily,” Farrell said. “The fact that he’s in Triple-A, he’s clearly on the radar. And the fact that he continues to swing the bat with some consistency — timeframe, no indication, he’s doing everything he can, though, to put himself on that track.”
That much can be assumed.
What happened to “possible August call-up,” a la the same vein as fellow 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts in 2013?
“The best way to answer that is if a young player were to come to us, how do they inject into our lineup and what are some of the things they might do on the field to give us that energy?” Farrell said. “I go back to Brock Holt leading off the other night with a double, stealing third base, that’s a quick boost of energy we all fed on. That’s something that was part of our consistent approach last year and when we’re not driving the ball out of the ballpark, that style of play is very helpful.”
Farrell and the Red Sox have every right to be excited about Betts’ spicy minor league seasoning this season, but let’s be real; the fact that they’re discussing his possible promotion is in every way indicative of their pathetic offense and not the fact that Betts is lighting up Triple-A.
Yes, the Red Sox lost again Saturday on the West Coast, 2-1 in 10 innings. Boston is now 11-17 in one-run games this season. Over 75 games, the Sox have scored three of fewer runs an astounding 27 times. They’re 4-23 in those games.
The Red Sox have scored 57 runs this month, worst in the American League. David Ortiz is batting .208 in June; A.J. Pierzynski, .167, Bogaerts, .157, Stephen Drew, .158, David Ross, .100. The team’s collective OPS this month is a gross .633.
No surprise then that the Red Sox are 8-12 this month, and floundering 7 1/2 games back in what is, once again, a Jekyll-and-Hyde American League East.
Boston scored 10 runs on June 13 against the Cleveland Indians, the first time it had broken the double-digit barrier all season. In the eight games since then, the Sox’ bats have been like seniors on vacation, waving their final “A” among a sea of D’s and F’s.
Over the last 8 games Red Sox starters: 52.1 IP, 1.89 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
In those 8 games the Red Sox pathetic offense has score 15 runs.
— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) June 21, 2014
The pitching staff on a whole stands on this team like a beacon of hope, a means to arguing that this Red Sox team is still much better than its 34-41 record indicates. We’re only six games from the halfway point of the season, which can either mean you’ve seen enough to know, or that you’re holding out hope that the Sox can find their offensive stride via trade or callup. It just seems like this is going to take a whole lot more than Betts though, doesn’t it?
“We’ve got a number of really strong things in place,” Farrell said. “That is pitching, both in terms of our rotation, our bullpen. I think we’re playing very good defense. We’ve had situations get away from us as far as men in scoring position. We’re close in a number of ways.”
But the biggest deterrent is such a matter of debilitating frustration that the Sox may soon turn to a 21-year-old kid who’s had 72 at-bats at Triple-A to be their savior.