Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: Xander Bogaerts Should Be Untouchable in Virtually Any Potential Red Sox Trade

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So Xander Bogaerts wasn’t quite ready for his close-up, his turn in the spotlight, last season.

As a 21-year-old phenom already in possession of his well-earned first World Series ring, the expectations were enormous. And they should have been. He barely encountered a bump of turbulence during his ascent to the major leagues, then he was arguably the Red Sox’ second-most dangerous hitter in the postseason.

We didn’t just believe he would be star. We believed he would become one rapidly. Hell, we believed he might be there already.

It’s easy to forget now, after his lost and hapless summer, but he did have a .304/.395/.464 slash line as of June 3, and the idea of him representing the Red Sox at the All-Star Game wasn’t crazy.

You know what happened. He was no All-Star. He was a 21-year-old suddenly slider-phobic kid who was encountering prolonged failure for the first time in, what, probably his entire existence as a ballplayer, right? He also switched positions, which may have had some effect, though it certainly had none whatsoever the previous October.

Bogaerts rebounded from his summer struggles with a strong September, though the low walk total still leaves some lingering concern about his pitch-recognition skills. There still may be a few more lumps in his future before he becomes everything he looked like he would be in October 2013 — and, again, through last May.

Trading him now would be a huge mistake. He should be as untouchable now as he was at this point a season ago. I believe the Red Sox know that. Hopefully fans do too.

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In 2014 spring training Lester was coming off a 110 ERA+ and one year removed from a 87. Why is it now accepted that the ownership’s opening offer was so far out of line?— Hoss (Austin)

That’s a fair point, though there are a couple of reasons why four years and $70 million was a lowball offer under any circumstances.

Lester was outstanding in the second half in ’13 (2.57 ERA in 13 starts. 7.6 K/9, just four homers in 87.2 innings, .642 OPS allowed) and was dominant in the postseason. He did have a lousy season in ’12, but he’d been remarkably consistent in the four previous seasons. He was between 24 percent and 44 percent above a league-average starter in those seasons,with ERAs that ranged from 3.21 to 3.47.

It was reasonable to be concerned about Lester heading into July 2013 — his OPS allowed was above 1.000 that June. But once he had the superb second half through October, it was fairly easy to look at the struggles as the outlier in an excellent, stable career.

Presuming Lester was at something close to his usual standard in ’14, that offer was going to look bad. He bet on himself, had the best year of his career, and now the Red Sox are going to have to pay him twice that money over a longer term to get him back — if they get him back.

When did reporters turn into film junkies who can suddenly decipher that the secondary coach of the Patriots is coaching poor techniques and openly wonder why the coach is kept on staff? Seems odd to me that a reporter would really have any clue what techniques were being taught, and whether it was the right way to do it or not. #Boyer
— Professor King

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I feel like there’s something I’m missing with this question considering the hashtag — did someone call out Josh Boyer recently? Or is the implication that criticism in the past wasn’t just? Because a lot of that was player-driven.

As far as the film-study aspect goes, it’s a way for reporters to have a greater knowledge of what they are covering, and I don’t know why anyone would have a problem with that. Because of the complexities in football, there’s more room for a reporter to expand his or her knowledge than in any other sport. I admire those who take the initiative, because not all of them do.

Some of them have a scouting background anyway — like Daniel Jeremiah or Field Yates — while others see it as a way gain an advantage in knowledge over their competition or to carve out their own niche among their peers.

Greg Bedard is an obvious example, and the effort he put in to learning to identify what he was really seeing earned him the respect of Belichick, who almost always had an extra minute after a press conference to answer more detailed questions. Boston Sports Media Watch had a good interview with Bedard a couple of years ago in which he explained his approach.

Is Evan Turner less tradeable than Jordan Crawford was last season?
— Guest

That’s an interesting question, because we’re talking about two talented, majorly flawed players who wow you on occasion and drive you nuts the rest of the time. Turner is the better player, but it’s also tougher to trade him, I think, because he signed a two-year deal for $6.7 million, whereas Crawford was a pending free agent.

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That’s not a crazy price for Turner, but given that he flopped with the Pacers when he had a chance to contribute to a contender, I doubt any legitimate championship contenders see him as the solution to much of anything this year. He’s skilled, but he’s still clueless in too many situations, especially defensively.

Maybe Brad Stevens can get the most out of him like he did with Crawford. But so far, I’m skeptical.

Not that this is going to happen, but you know what I’d love to see? Turner playing for the Lakers. By their third game together, Kobe would be treating him like Sasha Vujacic treated that chair.

Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please:

Lester looked like a guy who liked beer and the accompanying snacks then, didn’t he? Watching his cameo in this, you realize that he’s gotten himself into crazy-good shape the last couple of seasons. One more reason to pay the man, I say.

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