Dave O'Brien

Dave O'Brien on MFB: 'This is the time' to audition young players

July 22, 2015 - 9:06 am
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Red Sox play-by-play voice Dave O'Brien called in to Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about the unfortunate status of the team. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox have torpedoed to the bottom of the American League standings with a six-game losing streak. The team has not yet won since returning from the All-Star break. According to O'Brien, the rest of the season should provide opportunities for the Red Sox to field auditions and take stock of which players in the organization can help them compete in 2016 and beyond. That includes established players like Joe Kelly.

"This is the time to do it, you've got 68 games remaining and you're already starting to see that. Johnson was one of those guys. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys were already here or have been here and played. And this is, by the way, another reason you're seeing Joe Kelly [start Wednesday night]. You've got to find out what you've got in Joe Kelly," O'Brien said.

Brian Johnson had his own such audition Tuesday night with a start against the Astros, lasting 4 1/3 innings and allowing four runs (two earned).

"I thought Johnson looked all right, he wasn't overwhelming, he wasn't throwing 95 like Eddie Rodriguez, but you could see there's upside there. ... He dropped in some nice curveballs once the game got going and it looked like he was locating a little bit better. It was hard to tell, it was only 4 1/3 innings," O'Brien said.

The youth brigade has started to move through the Red Sox organization already, with young position players Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts and pitchers like Rodriguez making very positive impressions this year. Because many of the young players are already with the club, O'Brien doesn't expect more newcomers to make an impact in the season's final third.

"I think a lot of them have already been brought up," O'Brien said of the team's young talent. "Mookie's already here, Xander Bogaerts is already here, you've got a lot of guys who are under the age of 26 years old who are already in your lineup. I don't think there'€™s an endless funnel from [Triple-A] Pawtucket."

Regarding Betts, O'Brien thinks a shift in the lineup could be in order as a means of trying to trigger the offense.

"I'd like to see Mookie Betts move down in the lineup. I don't think Mookie Betts is a leadoff man. He's got a .316 on-base, 28 walks to this point in the season, a little bit more thump than maybe people think he has. I'd like to see him batting lower in the order and maybe change the batting order a little bit to see if that could start some things. Maybe [Brock] Holt leads off, [Dustin] Pedroia in the two-hole, Xander hitting third, David [Ortiz] moved down a little bit. I'd like to see some maneuverability in that lineup."