3 things we learned: Ben Cherington is on a roll

3 things we learned: Ben Cherington is on a roll
August 23, 2014, 6:00 am
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BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Red Sox 5-3 loss to the Mariners.

1. GM Ben Cherington is a force to be reckoned with right now.

Cherington made his first major "offseason" moves at the trade deadline acquiring serious MLB-ready players in Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Joe Kelly for impending free agent Jon Lester, reportedly-irked John Lackey, and Jonny Gomes in two separate deals.

It's rare for talent like that to be available at the deadline, especially from contending teams to cellar-dwellers like the Sox are this year.

But Cherington knows what the Sox' needs are, and didn't waste any time addressing them.

He hasn't stopped there, either.

On Friday, the team reportedly won the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes. The Cuban defector is yet another offensive bat and outfielder that will help next season, hopefully just as fast as his fellow Cuban defectors have helped their respective teams upon signing.

The deal is for seven years and $72 million. A commitment, yes - but this isn't Carl Crawford-crippling-contract type of money. It's manageable.

So why now? Because now might be Cherington's best chance. John Farrell pointed out that Cherington probably doesn't see a whole lot of free agent bats that fill a need this winter - so grab them now while they're surprisingly available.

"I think Ben's assessment of what the free agent pool is going to look like is going to be pitching-oriented, so there's a clear-cut plan with the retooling of this roster," Farrell said.

That plan? Acquire bats now, and stock up on pitching later. Use the team's excess outfielders and prospects to make a play for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher or two, if they become available this winter.

The Red Sox have eight outfielders including Castillo. They obviously plan for him to start next season. You'd have to assume just as much for Yoenis Cespedes. That leaves one outfield spot open for the rest of the bunch.

It won't be that cluttered at the start of spring training, that's for sure.

If a trade isn't there, it sounds like the team is prepared to sign pitchers. Who and for how much? We'll have to wait until the real offseason for those answers.

2. Xander Bogaerts is just having one of those years.

Bogaerts has to be well past the shake-it-off stage of his season and into full-on WTF mode.

If he is, he's not showing it - a commendable character trait.

But Friday night was yet another tough game in what has been an extremely tough rookie season that nobody foresaw.

And just as you thought it might get a little brighter . . . "foul ball!"

Bogaerts unleashed on a Felix Hernandez pitch in the 2nd inning, crushing the ball down the left-field line well over everything. The problem was that it was also well over the foul pole, and the umpire ruled it foul.

Very debatable.

So much, in fact, that it went to a crew chief review. The original call on the field stood due to inconclusive evidence as to whether it was a home run. That means that if it was ruled a home run, there wouldn't have been evidence to rule it foul.

So even when Bogaerts does get a hit, he can't get a hit.

"Yeah, I wish I had that," Bogaerts said after the game. "It's the second time that's happened to me this year. Balls that could have gone any way, home run or foul ball. It's a season that, it's a weird one. I never had one like this before. I never had even one close home run like that before. So it's just the kind of season I'm having."

And as if that wasn't bad enough for one night, Bogaerts was hit in the head by a Hernandez changeup in the fifth inning and later removed from the game.

He would be OK overall, but man . . .

3. Cespedes' power is real. Very real.

If it wasn't for Koji Uehara's implosion in the 9th inning, one of the storylines of Friday night's game would be that of Yoenis Cespedes' three-run moon shot off Felix Hernandez in the 6th inning.

I've been to a lot of games at Fenway Park over my 26 years of existence, and I can't remember seeing a ball hit higher than that one.

When I tell you that it went over the light tower above the Green Monster, I'm not exaggerating. That's probably the height of three-to-four Green Monsters stacked up on top of one another.

The ball didn't necessarily go far - just 368 feet - but the trajectory was something to see for sure.

The home run also came at a huge point in the game, with two men on base and the game scoreless. It's Cespedes' fourth home run as a member of the team, and it just so happens that all four of them have given the Red Sox a lead.

While he has had his fair share of ugly at-bats during this homestand, there's no doubting his clutchness - or his power.