Dear Doc Occam:
The Red Sox seem like they’re out of it, so why did they call up Franchy Cordero to play first base instead of Triston Casas? Casas has been great at AAA and Cordero has struggled this year. I know Alex Cora says they don’t think Casas is ready, but he looks ready to me!
Hey Peter —
Thanks for your email. It’s especially impressive given that we conceived of the idea for this column about 45 seconds ago—amazing work. Just amazing!
To get to your question, I don’t necessarily take Cora at his word that they don’t think Casas is ready. I’d say it’s more that they don’t know he’s ready and even though we are sort of counting out the Sox from the Wild Card race, they’re not counting themselves out, and I don’t blame them: pulling the plug on any given year cannot be easy for the guys inside the clubhouse.
Of course, the whole idea behind bringing Casas up, from the pro-Casas perspective, is that it would help the team fight for the playoffs and help his development, making it a win-win. His .266/.376/.475 line in AAA suggests he could be useable for the big-league team, but it’s important to remember that oufield pariah Jarren Duran was hitting .309/.379/.531 at Worcester (and did basically the same thing last year) and hasn’t been able to replicate it whatsoever at the pro level thus far. I think Casas’s approach is better than Duran’s and will be more successful in the big leagues, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the jump from AAA to MLB is as big as it’s ever been.
I also think that Duran’s ostensible ability to be used in a versatile manner, which has basically backfired, made him an easier promotion for Boston. I also think he serves as a cautionary tale. I also think that, whatever it looks like on the outside, promoting Casas now would send the signal that the Sox are giving up on the season. Whatever else Cordero is, he’s an established MLB-level player whose mere presence doesn’t signal a drastic course change.
Importantly, too, it’s still August. The politics of baseball are such that if a player is brought up in August it sends a different signal than if a player is called up in September. That is to say we may yet see Casas this year.
Frankly, I don’t care much either way. I don’t expect much from the Sox this year and I don’t think Casas’s development is affected too much either way. Given his relative inflexibility on the roster, the team would only need to bring him up if they were going to play him every day, and that’s clearly not the case. That may be the simplest explanation of all.
TL;DR: The Sox are “quiet quitting” on the season, not throwing in the towel outright.