Just pretend Alejandro De Aza's name is Rusney Castillo

(Alex Skillin/Boston Herald)
Bill Foley ( @Foles74)
Contributing Writer

Last week Red Sox Nation was outraged when Xander Bogaerts didn’t make the All-Star game, and rightly so.

The 22-year-old Bogaerts is one of the best shortstops in American League. Over the last month he has been one of the best players in baseball, period. Bogaerts hit .312 in June and his July Batting average is .395.

Think, for second, though, what the outrage would be like if Rusney Castillo was left out of the All-Star Game after batting .323 and playing outstanding defense in the Red Sox. Could you imagine if his OPS was .932 and he wasn’t on the AL roster?

There would be a riot on Landsdowne Street.

Well, the Red Sox do have an outfielder putting up those numbers this season. His name is Alejandro De Aza. He is appreciated in Boston, it seems. But he isn’t appreciated as much as his play commands.

Granted, De Aza’s numbers in Boston only include 31 games. (He’s hitting .266 in 61 games in Boston and Baltimore, but we don’t give a rip about Baltimore.)

Over those 31 games in the Hub, De Aza would take a back seat only to Bogaerts in the voting for MVP of the Red Sox resurgence.

Yes, the Red Sox are surging at the break because, believe it or not, Sunday’s loss to the Yankees was just one game. There’s still a chance for some meaningful games in the second half of the season for a team that won 15 of its last 20 games.

General Manager Ben Cherington has made a lot of bad calls since the Red Sox hoisted the World Series trophy in October of 2013.

The signing of Casitllo for so much money might be one of them, though the Nation really wants that to turn out to be a good move. The second he arrived in Boston, we immediately forgot about Jackie Bradley to the point that the best defensive center fielder in baseball can’t get another real shot to stick with the big league club.

Giving extensions to Wade Miley and Rick Porcello looks pretty bad, too, though the bet here is Porcello will end up being a good signing. Well, better, anyway.

Admit it, Cherington blew it when he never even tried to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, and he could have went after James Shields harder or maybe even pulled the trigger on a trade for Cole Hamels.

But we have to be fair to the GM. Ben hit it big last year when he stole Eduardo Rodriguez from Baltimore. He also pulled off a great move on June 4 when he made the Orioles look silly again in a traded for De Aza.  

At the time of the De Aza deal fans and media members groaned at the second trade for a castoff outfielder in eight days. Unlike the move for Carlos Peguero, though, the trade for De Aza has paid off in a big way.

The Red Sox are 15-8 in games started by De Aza, and that only begins to tell the story. His presence has also improved the team defense and helped the Red Sox jumpstart the bat of Hanley Ramirez by occasionally putting the apathetic left fieler at designated hitter.

That helped the team overcome the major slump of first baseman Mike Napoli. David Ortiz never would have broken out the first baseman’s mitt without De Aza on the team.

The Red Sox outfield definitely isn’t what we thought it would be when Cherington started hoarding outfielders last year, but neither are the Red Sox.

That the team has a chance – as slight as it might be – to be a sliver of the team we expected when spring training broke has a ton to do with the trade for De Aza and the production he has put up.

It would just be a whole lot more fun if his name was Rusney Castillo.