Down the stretch we go…
…for the first place Boston Red Sox. Yup, I said “first place”. Still seems hard to believe. 17 games left though, so we will see how it plays out. Tough loss last night, 1-0 to the immortal Kevin Gausman. But that just goes to show you that no one has any idea how it will go. Losing 2 out of 3 at home to Baltimore, after taking 2 out of 3 on the road in Toronto. “Only” winning 4 of 6 against Oakland and San Diego earlier this month. Two essentially minor league ballclubs. Yeah, 2 of 3 against anyone especially on the road shouldn’t be bad. But after outscoring Oakland 27-4 in the first two games of the series, you had to like their chances in Game 3, right? Nope. 1-0 loss. Yuck. An eleven game road trip in mid-August that started 7-2, then ended with 2 losses to another horrible team in Tampa Bay.
Toss all that in and consider that after the 4 game set with the Yankees starting tomorrow, 10 of the final 13 games will be on the road. 10 game trip to Baltimore, Tampa and New York, followed by 3 at home against Toronto. I suppose the beauty of it is that they are all AL East teams. But the reality of it is they could go from first place to out of the playoffs in a heartbeat. And they don’t even need any chicken and beer to do it.
It’s been quite some time since I have written about the Sox. So, in typical fashion, I’ll be throwing out all kinds of random crap to pretty much catch up. Thanks a bunch for your understanding!
*Speaking of last night’s game, I like to take the first point to officially apologize to one Mr. Rick Porcello. Even with the loss, the numbers read 20-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, over 200 innings. Etc. Who on God’s Green Earth saw this coming? Ok, maybe Ben Cherington did. (Side note: with Porcello and the year Hanley Ramirez is having, specifically the 2nd half of his year, perhaps we need to offer up an apology to Ben as well? Well, he also signed Pablo Sandoval too, so…). I have no idea if Porcello has a real chance at the Cy Young, even with the 20 wins. People may shy away from him based on the single fact that he got about 8 runs a game of run support this year. Others may be blinded by the 59 1/3 innings that Zach Britton has thrown this year, albeit a kind of dominant 60 innings or so. But it’s been a helluva run.
*Ben just landed a VP of baseball operations job with the Blue Jays. So let’s not cry for him anymore. He apparently had a chance at a prime job with the Minnesota Twins as well. So he’ll be ok.
*I (we) may also owe an apology to David Price also, due to his recent turnaround. But since I like my 31 million dollar pitchers to have some playoff dominance mixed in, let’s hold off on that for now.
*The biggest thing that makes me nervous over the next two and a half weeks? John Farrell. Why, of course! I suppose I need to give Farrell some credit for the first place team thus far. But I also remain among the few (several?) that would still like to see him go.
It would seem that the Red Sox have enough talent to be a playoff team. Always has seemed that way all year. But…I have never been confident in Farrell’s in-game management. Or the way he utilizes a bullpen. Or many other things. I especially can’t stand his babbling about subluxations and arm angles and arm action and all that stuff he spins when he speaks. Noe Ramirez pitching in a close game Tuesday when Craig Kimbrel was still available? Ruining Steven Wright’s season by pinch running him in a game. Pinch running? I get trying to utilize the whole roster in an NL park, but the fattest guy on the staff? Ugh. Publicly stating that Drew Pomeranz is a “6 inning pitcher” once he arrived in Boston, then in subsequent weeks throwing him out there to blow leads beyond the 6th. Playing Ryan Hanigan…EVER. I could go on, but I’m tired. Let’s just say that there is a good chance that Farrell himself can torpedo this whole thing easily in 17 games.
*I don’t know what happened to Xander Bogaerts in the 2nd half. But I sure hopes he wakes up soon.
*Good thing Dustin Pedroia hates hitting leadoff. He’s only been on fire since he started hitting there. Hate to see what would’ve happened if he stayed in his preferred 2-hole.
*Something that probably only bothers me…along with the Brentz family…Bryce Brentz gets to play in the majors for like 2 months, contributes a bit, then doesn’t get called up along with all the other September additions. Only 4 players on the 40 man roster didn’t get the call. Brentz was one of the 4 (Brian Johnson, Williams Jerez and Roenis Elias were the others, for the record). Obviously, it really doesn’t matter in the end. Though he really should be able to enjoy the playoff chase! In all seriousness, I will say that there have been several blowouts recently where Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have to stay in the game because the Sox didn’t have enough outfield depth to yank them. May have made sense to have another outfielder for that reason alone.
*I know I am not trying to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers toward a World Series championship. And I know Rich Hill has had some blister issues this year and missed plenty of starts, including some after the Dodgers traded for him. But I still would have left him in to chase that perfect game last week.
*Yoan Moncada should be glued to the bench the rest of the year. Maybe not even have him pinch run. Certainly not pinch hit. He doesn’t need to get up once every 5 or 6 days to add another strikeout to the ledger. The kid does look like he has some physical ability. But it also looks like he needs more ABs. He certainly needs more playing time at the hot corner if they plan to move him there for the long haul. His arm looks legit though…makes you wonder why the Sox started him off in the minors at second base. Seems like a waste of his arm to put him there. Another strike against him was forgetting the number of outs in a game this weekend. Not a good look in your first couple weeks in the majors.
Personally, I’d keep him on the bench for as long as this season goes, just to soak in the atmosphere. Then send him to winter ball to play RF and maybe 3B. I’d shop Bradley this offseason and if there is a deal to be made, move Mookie back to center and consider Yoan for RF down the road. Or move Benintendi to center. Something like that. But we will worry more about the offseason when we get there.
*One more thing on the offseason though: Do the Sox try to unload the last 2 years of Hanley’s contract this offseason based on his performance this year? Or stick him at DH and tell him to do nothing but hit? Good question. With David Ortiz not around next year to help keep Hanley “buying in”, I think we need to consider the first option. He has played ok at first this year. Not as good as everyone wants to tell you he has played, but certainly serviceable. But I don’t think I want him there next year.
*The Sox have to rein in their aggressive base running a bit going forward. Lot of head-scratchers here this year. Kind of topped off by Brock Holt trying to steal home Sunday down a run and with a guy who had earlier hit a 3 run homer at the plate. That particular one didn’t come back to haunt them. But that kind of stuff has got to stop.
*I hate the Yankees. I hate Joe Girardi. But he should get even more credit than he already does. How this guy has had the Yanks in the playoff chase over the past few years with those rosters, I have no idea. That’s all the positive stuff I’m going to say about that outfit though.
*The AL MVP race seems wide open. But why is all the Red Sox talk focused on Mookie Betts? I know Big Papi is a DH only and he has not been as dominant in the 2nd half as he was in the first. But I feel like he deserves a little more chatter anyway.
*Lastly, let’s talk about this bullpen. Is it really figured out? Who do you have faith in out there? Will Noe Ramirez still get some key innings in September? Kimbrel doesn’t like to pitch in non-save situations and Farrell apparently won’t force the issue, so how is he going to stay sharp? Joe Kelly is all of a sudden a key component? And so on. A couple of weeks ago, Clay Buchholz was supposed to be the “8th inning” guy. Think about that for a second. Now we are all set apparently? Kelly, Koji Uehara, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Fernando Abad, Brad Ziegler…I don’t know. Don’t rule out Farrell trying to re-implement Junichi Tazawa in high-leverage situations either.
All of the relievers listed above are seemingly capable major league relievers…in the regular season…and maybe only in the 7th inning or earlier (outside of Kimbrel…but he sometimes doesn’t inspire confidence either). But as the pressure gets greater, how many of these dudes will step up? Remains to be seen. I know we all love Koji for what he has done over the past few years. But I am not ready to say he is “back” based on a few good innings in September. We shall see…
Ultimately, it was great to enjoy baseball in Boston over the summer again. So even if they collapse, hell, the Patriots have started so it’s not all that bad! But the Sox do have the talent to compete. So hopefully it will be a fun two and a half weeks any way you slice it. Anything after that would be a welcome bonus for sure.
Posted on September 15, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged AL East, Baltimore Orioles, Ben Cherington, Boston Red Sox, Craig Kimbrel, David Ortiz, David Price, Dustin Pedroia, Joe Girardi, John Farrell, Mookie Betts, New York Yankees, Playoffs, Rich Hill, Rick Porcello, World Series, Yoan Moncada. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.