I believe it was Wednesday of last week, when I started collecting my thoughts regarding how I felt the second half of the season might go for the Red Sox. I had yet to recant my preseason prediction that they would win the AL East division, and began to believe that after they had won four straight and something like seven of ten, it was not beyond reasonable thought to expect a second half run at first place. Yes, I know they were still in last place, but I had reason to hope. Much of that hope was based on the return of veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan to the starting line up and the positive effect that would have on would be “ace”, Rick Porcello. If Porcello could return to early season form, combined with the quality starts that newcomer Eduardo Rodriguez (age 22, 5-2, 3.59 ERA, 46K’s) and Clay Buchholz (7-7, 3.26 ERA, 113.1 innings) had been turning in, then it was still possible to believe the Sox could mount some kind of second have run at first place in the East.
On my Thursday morning bike ride, as I began formulating the blog I wanted to write, I decided it was best to wait until after the series with the Yankees was over with before I sat at a keyboard. In theory, a series played at this point in the season should not be that critical, particularly when you realize that we are really talking, give or take, about one game, But when the Sox lost the opening game, and Buchholz in the process, then it became very difficult to believe that Boston has enough, especially in the pitching department, to make up 6 1/2 games against the surging and healing Yankees.
As we enter the All Star break, there are a few points for Red Sox Nation to ponder. 1) Super sub, Brock Holt with his .292 BA, is the only Red Sox representative to the MLB All-Star game. 2) Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts are tied for second on the Sox for most RBI with 43. Bogaerts, by the way, (.304 BA) has proved me wrong by playing All-Star caliber shortstop. He is currently 6th in the league with a .987 fielding percentage. 3) The Red Sox have a 40-year old first baseman. (Sounds like a Steve Carell movie.) 4) They are likely better served, as we approach the trade deadline, to be sellers rather than buyers.
Since this past off season, I have believed that within the next year or two, Ortiz would retire and that Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval would be involved in a reconfiguration of the DH, third base, first base positions in the lineup. Let’s face it, you have to get Ramirez out of left field and Sandoval’s weight is going to become an issue. (Although it does seem to me that there are more fat first baseman than third basemen.) I have already said that I favored the benching of Mike Napoli and replacing him in the short term with Ramirez, but apparently manager John Farrell only heard part of my suggestion. At any rate, the Sox need to strengthen their pitching, both starting and bullpen, and this looks like a good time to start the process that they accomplished last Winter.
I expect that you’ll see rookie lefthander Brain Johnson get a start soon, likely as a replacement for Buchholz. Speaking of Buchholz, I find it troubling that once again, just as things are getting serious and he is needed, he gets hurt. I’m not sure if this current injury lessens his value significantly or not, but in a few weeks I won’t be surprised to see him, along with Napoli and possibly Hanigan and Jackie Bradley, headed out of town. Maybe this is time to install Rusney Castillo, currently hitting .289 in AAA, in the outfield to see if he’s for real. He is, after all, 27, and in his case, his future is, as the saying goes, now.
Stay tuned…and, oh yes, I no longer think the Sox are going to win the East. There, I said it.
- The “Roger That” Edition - February 28, 2017
- The “Nice Ring To It” Edition - February 3, 2017
- The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Edition - January 17, 2017
- The “Malcolms in the Middle” Edition - January 11, 2017
- A “Catching Up, Following Up, and Weighing In” Edition - December 31, 2016
- The “Cannon and Flowers” Edition - December 21, 2016
- The “Farm, for Sale” Edition - December 10, 2016
- The “Tebucky Jones Tribute” Edition - November 13, 2016
- The “World, Serious” Edition - November 1, 2016
- The “Easy Come, Easy Go” Edition - October 18, 2016