As I sit down to write this, the Red Sox have played 62 games and are tied for first place with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. Seeing as the two teams are about to start a three game series, by the time I finish this that may no longer be true. But one way or another, that still represents enough of a sample for me to venture in on who I think has been “the real deal”, and who may need to be included in a deal.
THE REAL THING:
You don’t have to be a resident of Red Sox Nation to appreciate the fact that a strong start was essential to job security for manager John Farrell, as well as meeting their long term goal of winning the pennant. In order for that to happen, several key players had to either return to past form, or prove that they truly belonged. In the case of David Ortiz, it was more to prove that at 40 he can stay healthy and anchor an offense that can at times be very impressive. Which he clearly has, as he is leading the AL with a .708 slugging percentage (16 Hrs/55 RBIs), and third in average at .340. The 32 year old Dustin Pedroia was one of those who I worried about his staying healthy as he has been vital to Boston both as a hitter in the number two spot, and defensively at second base. Fortunately, this year he managed to get through the opening weeks without getting hurt, and is currently hitting .311, with 7 HRs, and 47 RBIs.
Most of the hope though, for an exciting 2016 rested on the shoulders of several of last year’s youngsters, especially right fielder Mookie Betts, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and centerfielder Jackie Bradley. So far, they have not disappointed. Bogaerts is clearly one of game’s best, leading the AL in hitting at .359, with 8 Hrs, and 44 RBIs. After a fairly slow start, Betts has definitely picked things up and is leading the league in runs scored with 58, while hitting .289. Bradley, who had a 29 game hitting streak last month, seems to have proven once and for all that he can hit big league pitching with consistency, currently at a .311 pace, in addition to 10 Hrs, and 43 RBIs.
There were several other players both young and old, who many of us, especially Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, were looking to for indications as to whether or not they were going to be major contributors to the cause. So far they have been disappointments. I’m especially referencing Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw, Rusney Castillo, and to some extent, Pablo Sandoval. I put Sandoval in a special category because although there was some hope he would get his act together over the off season, he clearly did not, and was DL’d before things really got started. I’m not sure he has any trade value, but as he is done for the season we can worry about that later. Actually, you can probably say a similar thing about the 28 year Castillo as well. He went from being the starting left fielder to being “throw in” potential in a very short time, appearing in only 6 games so far, and then usually only as a pinch runner.
Right now, though, I am far more concerned with the lack of spark coming from Shaw and Ramirez. Both of them got off to encouraging starts. Shaw hit .314 in April, but only .275 in May, and a mere .132 in June. Ramirez, overall at.266/4/34, is hitting well under .200 over the last 22 games, and hasn’t hit a home run in over 30 games. Although there is hope that the 26 year old Shaw will eventually straighten himself out, don’t be shock if he’s include, along with some other promising youngster like Bradley or Blake Swihart, in a trade for a top line pitcher. As far as the 32 year old Ramirez is concerned, there is real fear that he could be washed up. Then what? If he can’t hit enough to DH, and you still owe him a ton of money, where do you send him? Japan?
- 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