It's that time of the Major League season: the time when injuries being mounting up for every team, ineffective play forces teams to cut bait, and trades start becoming possible. The Red Sox have some choices to make and here's what they should do:
- They should send young infielder Marco Hernandez back to Pawtucket and, a la Swihart and Betts before him, have him play mostly leftfield. Clearly the Sox like his bat in the majors now. He's not going to play regularly on the infield with Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, and - at shortstop if Bogaerts were to go down - Deven Merrero are all ahead of him as backups. With Swihart down for a while, Holt hurt and struggling with the bat, there is room for Hernandez as the lefthanded sub for Chris Young in left. Otherwise, I don't see the value in having him on the roster.
- When they send down Marco, bring up Bryce Brentz. He's hitting well in Pawtucket, 27 years old, taking up a 40 man roster slot, and seemingly healthy. He can play corner outfield with a crazy arm. If he catches fire with his raw power, ride that out. If not, cut him loose, bring up Ryan LeMarre.
- Send down Rusney Castillo until - or if - he gets going with the bat at Pawtucket. He's basically a pinch runner right now when he needs to learn how to hit. The aforementioned outfielders are better suited to backup outfield duty as they have lower upsides and less to learn from more time in Triple-A.
- Roenis Elias is the new fifth starter for the Sox. There's really not another option. Henry Owens cannot throw a strike (Henry, please try a smaller windup. That seems to help tall pitchers). Brian Johnson is out for now. Joe Kelly was a disaster and will probably end up in the pen. Buchholz needs more work and I don't think he'll start again until after the All Star break. Elias has been pitching great in Pawtucket lately and has 49 career major league starts so he's solid, experienced option.
- Let's just say it: if Andrew Benindendi looks good in Portland over the next month or so, he will likely get a shot to be the Sox starting left fielder for the stretch run this year. That's the model the Cubs used with Kyle Schwarber and, aside from the injury this year, that worked out well. I give it a 50/50 shot that we see him in Boston this fall.
- Henry Ramos making it to Pawtucket after a few years of injury and stalling at Portland is an interesting development for the system. He seems like someone who could get hot and break through to the point of helping in the majors over the next few years if he can stay on the field.