Buyers or sellers? Sox still aren't sure

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Buyers or sellers? Sox still aren't sure

BOSTON -- Last week, general manager Ben Cherington vowed to re-assess the Red Sox' standing after their road trip before determining how aggressive the organization would be in its approach to the non-waiver trade deadline.

But like everything else associated with the 2012 Red Sox, there are no simple answers.

The team's 3-3 swing through Texas and New York, which concluded with two final-at-bat wins at Yankee Stadium, may have given the Sox hope the season can be salvaged.

Indeed, internally, the Sox believe the team can still rally and play over .600 ball for the final two months and vault into a playoff spot.

That sentiment is shared by others. Last week, New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman cited three American League East executives who believe the Red Sox have the best chance of any team in the division to catch the New York Yankees.

But potential and ability are one thing, and execution is another. And 102 games into the season, the Red Sox sit at .500, with a half-dozen teams in front of them in the wild-card race.

If Josh Becket and Jon Lester can each pitch as well as they did in their most recent starts -- and to be sure, neither was great, but each was good enough to give the Red Sox a chance to win -- then maybe the Sox can catch fire in the final two months and make good on that unrealized promise.

According to some who have talked to Red Sox executives, one thing is clear after the weekend in New York: The team is not in full-sell mode.

For instance, if they could trade Josh Beckett for a return of players that set them up for 2013 and beyond, they'd be willing to do so. But they're not willing to take much of Beckett's money to facilitate such a deal.

If Beckett is dealt, it will be because the Sox can improve, and not to unload Beckett at any cost.

The team's attitude toward a number of role players, however, has crystalized somewhat. While a week ago, the Sox seemed reluctant to move players such as catcher Kelly Shoppach, outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava and starter Aaron Cook, there is now a belief the Sox would trade any or all of the role players if the return is enticing enough.

There's no evidence to suggest the Sox have lowered their asking price on these players, though. In fact, a National League source indicated that the New York Mets, who have long had an interest in Shoppach, have decided the Sox are asking too much and are focusing their search elsewhere.

Cook had teams interested back on May 1, when his opt-out clause forced the Sox to add him to their 25-man roster, and his recent run of starts had only amped up interest. But his most recent outing, in which he was pounded for six runs on seven hits over four innings against the Yankees in New York last Friday, may have leveled interest somewhat.

Sweeney and Nava have some value, too, are bench players, though the one Red Sox outfielder attracting the most interest is Cody Ross. Ross can't be classified as an untouchable, but given his modest salary (3 million), right-handed power (.523 slugging percentage) and strong makeup make a deal almost out of the question.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.