Yesterday, our own Matt Collins posed the question if Christian Vazquez was doing enough at the plate to justify his presence behind it. The conclusion: yes, probably, when considering just how good that glove is.
As it stands, Vazquez is hitting .254/.303/.366. It's not quite respectable territory, but it's also not so miserable a line that you're embarrassed to have it at the end of your batting order. Consider, on the other hand, if he were hitting .208/.284/.267. Now that makes you avert your eyes. Even with Vazquez' superlative glove, it's hard to justify such an easy out anywhere 1-through-9.
That's what Brock Holt has been hitting since the third game of the season. And no, Holt's glove ain't Vazquez'.
It was hard to notice just how bad things were earlier in the season because those three games were so excellent that they managed to mask his struggles. He had an OPS as high as .779 as recently as the start of the Houston series, and even now his season line is about the same as Vazquez'.Still, there's no denying that, as with all of his other seasons, Brock Holt's 2016 has gone south from its initial heights.
Even great teams will have some poor performers--here is where I remind you of Will Middlebrooks getting 28 plate appearances in the 2013 postseason--and the fact of the matter is that Holt isn't as bad as these last 38 games would suggest. We still don't really know if Holt is a low-durability player who gets worn down by long stretches of activity, or just a streaky one whose hot streaks have happened to come early. But either way, he's never as bad as he appears at his worst. But he's also not looking like much of a starter right now. And he's certainly not giving the Red Sox any reason to keep him in the lineup if they have a better option.
Whether they do or not isn't clear. Rusney Castillo's OPS in Pawtucket is about the same as Holt's is in the majors, which is...not encouraging. Where Holt is heading in the wrong direction, however, Castillo is at least moving up. He's hitting at a solid .316/.350/.404 clip in May, and while it feels like his whole career thus far has been just a litany of excuses, it's always worth mentioning cold weather when it comes to a player who hasn't spent much time in the north before.
Adding Castillo to the roster now would also ensure that the team has plenty of time to see if this, too, is another area where they should be looking into the trade market. With Andrew Benintendi on the way and their other outfield spots 100% locked in, the team likely won't be looking to go after a long-term answer, but a rental--be it for a few months, or with another season included--but honestly, if they can get a reasonable performance out of Castillo, I think they'd much rather save their resources to spend on a starting pitcher, and probably just to hold onto for the future. Boston's farm system is strong, but fairly top-heavy, making it harder to make trades without giving up impact pieces in the process. And given how strong the lineup already is, the outfield is not an area that demands a big new investment.
Honestly, this move is the best thing for Brock Holt, too. If, indeed, his issues are durability-related, then getting Holt back on the bench will give him a chance to rest up, and get in good condition for the stretch run. Rusney gets his shot, the team gets their information, Holt gets his rest, and everyone wins.