Twenty-eight years after Mookie Wilson hit a ground ball through Bill Buckner's legs, the Red Sox are hoping another Mookie can reverse their luck. On Saturday, as first reported by the Boston Herald's John Tomase, Mookie Betts is being promoted to Boston.
Betts will be joining the Red Sox in New York City at Yankee Stadium for a nationally televised game against the New York Yankees. Tonight's starting pitcher for New York is Masahiro Tanaka (11-2, 2.11 ERA). Go get 'em, kid!
The Red Sox are 24th in the majors in batting average. They are 12th in on-base percentage. They are tied for 26th with (gulp) the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays in scoring.
Betts has been an on-base machine through his quick run through the minors. The 21-year-old has never had a hiccup through Single-A, Double-A, or Triple-A. In fact, his averages have gotten better each year with every jump. Will he have the same easy adjustment to major league pitching? And where will he play?
Betts is a second baseman by trade. In Pawtucket, Betts has been transitioning to playing center field. He even started a couple of games in right field just last week. So does this mean it is the end of the road (for now) for Jackie Bradley Jr.? Does Betts become the every day center fielder and permanent leadoff hitter? Or do the Red Sox play Bradley in CF and Betts in RF? And what happens with Brock Holt-- the Red Sox' hottest hitter?
The Red Sox need a jolt. No doubt about it. The Red Sox are 36-44 and eight games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. They are at a critical juncture in their schedule. They are a month away from the trade deadline. It needs to be determined if they will be considered "buyers" or "sellers" at that time. They have decisions to be made determining whether they will need to consider trading players like Jon Lester, John Lackey, A.J. Pierzynski, Jonny Gomes, or, even, Koji Uehara. They have four weeks to find out.
Betts seems to be Boston's last best chance to get things turned around. Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks have seen their rehabs derailed this past week. They will not be walking through that door anytime soon. Victorino, in particular, has been sorely missed. It is hoped Betts can do what Victorino was expected to do-- provide some energy and some speed at the top of the lineup.
I would have liked to have waited a couple more weeks to bring up Betts. I certainly don't want him facing Tanaka in his first game in the majors. Something like that could mess with a young player's head. He might start thinking every pitcher at this level is like Tanaka.
I would have also liked the Red Sox to have cleared a roster spot for Betts. That does not mean sending Rubby De La Rosa back to the minors. De La Rosa and Brandon Workman need to remain in the starting rotation for the Red Sox to have any chance of turning their season around. They are not going to do it with Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz.
Would the Red Sox be calling up Betts if they were ten games over .500 and in first place? Probably not. But the Red Sox are desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures. This is an act of desperation- pure and simple.