Mike Hazen’s role with the Boston Red Sox may have expanded, but make no mistake: he’s still very much in touch with what’s moving and shaking down on the farm.
Promoted to vice president of player development prior to the season, a position that involves overseeing the minor-league operation and amateur scouting, Hazen spoke Wednesday about some of the storylines that have crept up over the past 4 ½ months as they relate to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
On the status of the upper levels of the system in wake of the Erik Bedard deal at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and the offseason trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston (Note: Of the eight players Boston surrendered between the two deals, five had reached Double A.):
Mike Hazen: “Anytime there’s 3-for-1 or 4-for-1 deals, it’s going to hurt the system a little bit. You just need the younger guys from the lower levels to step in. Right now with the combination of the (Bedard) trade and some injuries, we’re kind of hemorrhaging players a little bit.”
On Pawtucket’s ability to make a serious playoff push while dealing with the usual slew of call-ups/injuries that can disrupt continuity:
MH: “It’s been good to see Pawtucket maintain its level of play these last few months even though they’ve been banged up here and there. To get [outfielder Ryan] Kalish back has probably helped and hopefully he’ll be healthy for the stretch run. It’s fun to watch these guys play well in a challenging environment.”
On the PawSox blending winning with developing in 2011, two traits that don’t always function simultaneously in the minors:
MH: “If the major-league team takes too many of your guys, the Triple-A team can really get crushed, but it’s good to see these guys stay together. The major-league team has stayed relatively healthy over the second half, so it’s good to watch these kids win and develop together.”
On whether the Red Sox would put off making any September call-ups in the event the PawSox qualify for the International League postseason:
MH: “They’ll probably be some guys who go right away [following the conclusion of the regular season] and some who go after.”
On the decision behind bringing pitcher Alex Wilson up from Double-A with so little time left in the regular season:
MH: “For starters, Pawtucket is going for a playoff spot and they’re going to need pitching in the playoffs. Plus, Alex was Portland’s best starter. He’s been in [the Eastern League] for the last year-and-a-half and we felt like it was time for him to take the next step.”
On whether Lars Anderson’s increased power production can be traced to slugger Ryan Lavarnway hitting in front of him or becoming increasingly familiar with I.L. pitching (Note: nine of Anderson’s 13 home runs have come since Lavarnway was promoted to Pawtucket on June 13.):
MH: “It’s probably due to the maturation of the hitter and learning the league a little bit and getting comfortable with his surroundings. But probably having someone come up and been as hot as Lavarnway has been probably doesn’t hurt.”
On whether the power stroke Ryan Lavarnway has shown throughout the season has caught anyone in the organization off-guard.
MH: “Sure, the production is nice (Lavarnway entered Wednesday with 30 HRs between Portland and Pawtucket), but the quality at-bats at Triple-A and the consistency he’s shown, that’s what we’re looking for. We don’t ask guys when they go to a new place to try and hit home runs; it’s just a product of what they’re doing. Ryan has done that more often than that so it’s good to see.”
On not putting too much stock in the batting average of prized shortstop Jose Iglesias (Note, Iglesias was hitting .231 heading into Wednesday’s action):
MH: “We’ll throw out those numbers for right now. Certainly we’re focusing on the quality of the plate appearances and in the last few weeks he’s actually done a very good job in that area. He’s going to hit as he gets stronger and gets more mature. His defense has been outstanding. We knew that patience was going to be important this year.”
On making sure Ryan Kalish doesn’t overdue it after missing over 100 games with shoulder/neck ailments:
MH: “You always worry about something happening, especially given how hard Ryan plays. He’s just got to make the most of his opportunities as he gets back up to game speed.”
On giving Junichi Tazawa a taste of Triple-A ball after the Japanese pitcher spent most of the season working his way back from Tommy John surgery:
MH: “It gets back him to the place where he was prior to getting called up [in 2009]. He’s done a good job so far [4 1/3 scoreless innings with Pawtucket, all coming in relief] and we’ll see how things fall at the end of the season.”
On Felix Doubront’s injury-marred season:
MH: “Obviously the injuries have been a little bit of a disappointment for everybody. It’s been a challenge with him not being able to be out there, but he’s back out there now and for the most part is throwing the ball well. Whatever the major-league team needs at whatever period of time, I think Felix will be ready if he’s in fact the guy who goes up. He just needs to keep pitching at this point and rack up as many innings as possible.”