Mike Hazen

Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen on D&C: 'We know we have some redundancies in some areas,' including crowded outfield

September 04, 2014 - 5:47 am
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Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the future of the team and other news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. The Red Sox recently signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, but Mookie Betts has shown promise with his play in center field of late. That's led to questions about what the outfield will look like next season. "We have a long offseason to go. '€¦ I think both Castillo and Betts, I see them on the team. What position they're playing, who's in the lineup, how it all shakes out, we have a long way to go in this offseason," Hazen said. "I think what we've tried to do as we've moved through the trading deadline and into the rest of the regular season was to acquire or amass as many really good major league players as we could. We know we have some redundancies in some areas, we have some holes in other areas that need to be plugged. And there's two ways we're going to plug those holes. We're going to do it with money in the free agent market, and we're going to be able to do it via trade, having good major league players, not just minor league players to trade. We may trade some minor league guys as well, but having those good, established major league hitters -- a lot of these guys that have power, which is a commodity in the game, set us up fairly well in a strong position at least. "I know trades are tough to pull off no matter what you're dealing with because you need two to tango on this. But we're going to be in a pretty good position we think going into the offseason given the assets and the players that we have both on the roster and in the minor leagues, and the financial resources that we have coming off the books currently to be able to fill the holes that we need to fill." Asked which major leaguer Castillo could be compared to, Hazen mentioned an individual who patrolled mostly National League outfields and who last played in 2003. "I think the name that was thrown out a lot in our room was Ron Gant. We're going back a little ways there," Hazen said. "A guy that has pretty good power. The ability to get out to both right field and left field. He's a very good athlete, he can run. Where he's going to end up in the outfield given his throwing arm, we project him as a center fielder right now. Whether that ends up being his ultimate position, we believe center fielder, we'll see. "You try to get as much history on a Cuban player as we can. We've gone back a couple of years when we watched him on the amateur circuit with the national team. You don't really get to watch him in a professional setting. And then you get to watch him during workouts. So you get a much smaller snapshot of the player, and it's more based in workout-type situation than it is in real game play. You obviously have the stats coming from Cuba in some cases that are out there. "Other than that, you're going to get your reads on it now, watching him play, watching how the arm plays, watching how he breaks in center field, watching how the bat works. But that's typically been a comp that's been thrown out there by our scouting guys that went and saw him." There has been speculation that the Red Sox will push for Will Middlebrooks to play winter ball this offseason. While the front office has yet to have "final hard discussions about winter ball," Hazen acknowledged it's probable that the team will ask the third baseman to get the extra work. "I hope he sees the value of it," Hazen said. "Look, when he came into the big league level, he took it by storm in that first 250, 300 plate appearances. In 2012 when we had him, he was one of the best players if not the best player on the team. We have to get back to that player, the guy that goes out there and has the ability to impact the baseball on a nightly basis. "We knew when this guy came up through the minor leagues, the way he played, he's made really good strides at third base, he always impacted the baseball. We need to get back to the player that had the ability to impact a baseball night in and night out. Winter ball, in a lot of cases for guys that haven't had a great season due to performance or injury -- and I think in his case it's probably a little bit of both here -- he's got to make up some of those at-bats. We see that as a good opportunity to turn the lights off, go down when nobody's watching, pick up another hundred at-bats against experienced guys that are out there flipping breaking balls at you, and figure that stuff out, coming back into spring training hopefully with a lot of confidence. "Now, hopefully he builds up some of that confidence in September as we move forward. But that's another vehicle that we have for those younger guys, and I hope he'd be open to it." Dustin Pedroia has been out since being hit in the head by an elbow from Rays baserunner Logan Forsythe during Saturday's game. Although Forsythe insisted the elbow was accidental, there was a question as to why the Red Sox did not retaliate. "I don't know if you're ever going to get a clear opinion on that. Our side usually thinks those things are intentional, and the other side usually thinks it's unintentional. We've been on the other side of those things as well," Hazen said. "I'm sure if our guys feel like it was intentional, it will be something that will be remembered. I don't think when two teams are in last place, out of the race, there's really no points to prove in those situations. "We've obviously had our run-ins with the Rays over the last few years, and I'm sure we'll continue to have our run-ins with them in the future." For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. For Alex Speier's column on how the team can deal with both Castillo and Betts, click here.

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