Red Sox, next up. Covered some of the stories around the team on the trading deadline posts. But this is a larger view on what has been going on since April and my opinion of it all. Also a few thoughts on the last 45 games as well:
*The offense. Who would have thought that 117 games in, they would have scored the most runs, have the best OBP, 2nd best SLG and 3rd best average? You look at the names on the roster and you just don’t see it. Then you look at the actual individual statistics themselves and you don’t see it either. No one seems to be having career years and the roster is littered with average veterans. But together, it all adds up. Ortiz is not having a career year, but the numbers are good. As are Pedroia’s. Ellsbury seems to be making his contract year push now. Then guys like Nava, Carp, Gomes, Victorino, Iglesias (before the trade of course) and even (gasp!) Drew. Nothing stands out with these guys, but they have contributed as a whole. Gomes is what he is, but he sure has come up with some big hits in the clutch. Even (ugh) Drew has, especially recently.
*The rotation. Despite the overall numbers of the offense, this seems to be the strength of the team. But who saw this coming either? Especially with Lester’s regression over the last couple of months. And Buchholz’ “injury”? Ok, that was kind of a cheap shot. But from everything I have seen, it appears he should be sucking it up and pitching. But that’s my opinion. No one affiliated with the Sox seems to be bothered by his inactivity, but…anyway, as much as Lackey irritates most of us, he has had a big year. Dempster has done about what I expected, no complaints with him as long as he keeps eating innings. And Doubront? Still has some bouts of inconsistency, but he sure has had a pretty good year, especially after his first handful of appearances. We’ve already touched on the Peavy addition. Hopefully everyone holds up and keeps doing what they are doing, because…
*The bullpen. Kind of scary when you look at who is out there now. Uehara has been awesome. Tazawa largely dependable. Breslow…pretty good. But Beato? Workman? Britton? de la Rosa? Ouch. Workman has pitched well, but as a starter. Britton has pitched well also, but in limited stints. de la Rosa has promise, but has not pitched well at Pawtucket. Beato is a journeyman. And the first three? You’d be more comfortable with them in the 6th-7th than in the 8th-9th. You also have to worry about overuse as well. There may be some help coming. But that means guys like Morales, Thornton, and Alex Wilson. Not necessarily guys that are dominant. Too many guys like Wright, de la Torre, Mortensen are lurking too. Ugh. Losing Miller, Bailey & Hanrahan were big blows even though they didn’t seem it at the time. Would love for them to get another dependable arm before the waiver trade deadline.
*The manager. I was the first guy questioning the hire of John Farrell. What had he done in Toronto that made him someone the Sox HAD to have? Stories of clubhouse unrest last year in the Blue Jay clubhouse gave me pause as well. But looks like I was wrong here…again. He’s taken what I thought was an average team at best and has them 23 games over .500 right now. He’s pushed all the right buttons. The lineup decisions almost always seem to work out. Rotating guys like Nava, Carp, Napoli, Gomes, etc., through 1B/LF. Somehow surviving with a 3B platoon of Holt and Snyder right now. Working those fringe guys in the bullpen to put them in the best position to succeed. Arranging the rotation correctly, sometimes plugging guys like Webster, Workman and Aceves in where he had to and having them largely work out. In game decisions seem to be flawless as well. I wasn’t all that upset (as many fans were) that he gave a start to Wright the other night. The logic was sound…young team having never seen a knuckleball, team that strikes out a lot, bad team, giving starters and extra day, he had been pitching well, etc. But once he realized it was not working, he pulled the plug. A lot of managers would probably have ridden it out. Of course it helped to have a fresh Workman ready to go, but still. And people asking why Workman didn’t get the start, well, when Wright was named the Tuesday starter over the weekend. And Workman was not on the roster. He was only added to the roster when Nava went on the paternity leave list. Otherwise, he was ineligible to be called back up because they had to wait 10 days after his demotion to recall him. People failed to realize this. Could they have made the switch once he was recalled? Probably. But you know these athletes. Creatures of habit. The decision was already made and they were sticking with it. Anyway, I digress. Back to in game decisions of Farrell. He also seems to pinch hit and pinch run with the right people at the right time. Drake Britton the other night? Loved it. You don’t see managers doing that anymore, pitchers pinch-running. Wish they would. And although he jogged home on a homer, loved the move.
*The chemistry. I have always believed that chemistry comes from winning. I have friends that have argued vehemently with me about this. I still lean toward this view. Some of the greatest Yankee teams in history had clubhouses where players hated each other, managers fought players, etc. The A’s champions of the ’70s and ’90s…same thing. And they still won. So it is a matter of opinion I guess. But there seems to be something special with this team this year. Napoli not sulking after getting his contract reduced for something he hasn’t had an issue with (hip) and going out and playing. Especially after they have taken some time away from him in the 2nd half. Gomes losing playing time to Nava early on and being content with being a bench guy regardless. Etc. Cherington figured something out to be able to put all these guys together and have them win. Or he got lucky. Or both. But, as I said, there is something special about these guys this year. Let’s hope they can keep it up.
*Some initial thoughts on the last 45 games. Get another veteran, dependable bullpen arm for a somewhat low cost. Enough of this Holt/Snyder thing, bring up Middlebrooks and Bogaerts and with Drew rotate the three of them between 3B and SS. As much as I want them to go with Lavarnway (or someone else) next year as the everyday catcher and not overpay for Salty, get Ross active and use Christian Vazquez as the 3rd catcher in September for defense. Watching teams steal at will against the Sox is painful. See if Webster can help you out of the bullpen for an inning or two down the stretch, at the expense of guys like de la Torre, Beato and the like. Bring him up now, just like they are doing with Workman. Obviously Bradley will be back for defense and pinch running in September, so that is a no brainer. If a guy like Ranaudo can help you and he/they aren’t on the 40 man roster, make the space and be done with it.
Next (and finally last): Bruins
Kind of hard to follow/write about sports after the events of the last week about a half hour away from this address. My heart goes out to all the victims of the Marathon tragedy, as well as the families of the victims and anyone else that it may have had an effect on. I think all of us (at least locally) have been affected in some small way (emphasis on “small”, as it is a fraction of what the actual victims and their families have gone through). But hopefully people can get back to living normal lives now that these suspects have been captured/killed, whatever normal means nowadays. Anyway, the above is kind of deep for me, and probably not very well “spoken”, so I guess I should get back to the task at hand.
What follows is the remaining projections for the Sox season. Way late, I know. But note that these are guys who were not in the Opening Day lineup. So technically these aren’t all “bench” guys, but they are people who started out there, one way or the other.
*Bogaerts–Looking at a “cup of coffee” in September. May not get it because of 40-man roster space, but here’s hoping he does, whether it is successful or not.
*Carp–Thought he may play more, but has played sparingly so far. Thought he would get some games in at 1B while Napoli DH’s and get some at-bats late as a defensive replacement. Not so much. But he still could. Long season. And Nava should cool off, as he always does.
*Ciriaco–Playing time really depends on Drew’s health. Will see some time at 3B, but not much at 2B, unless Pedroia gets hurt. Comes down to SS. But any long-term injury will probably bring Iglesias back. Most likely won’t have the success that he enjoyed when he blasted on the scene last year.
*Drew–Rough start for him so far in Boston. But a horrendous signing regardless on whether he heats up or not. Did we really need to spend 9.5 mil on him? Couldn’t get him for 3.5? I know it’s not my money, but there wasn’t a cheaper stopgap for this “bridge” year until Iglesias/Bogaerts came up for good? I could have lived with Ciriaco/Holt until then. He’ll get every chance in the world though. And I expect him to get hurt again…runs in the family.
*Holt–May have been a little aggressive with the 34 games, but expect him to get some time during the year. Probably mostly in September though.
*Kalish–Think I was way aggressive here on games and at-bats as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if he missed the entire year. Talent is supposedly there, but we may never see it. Just hasn’t been able to stay on the field.
*Lavarnway–Salty may be in play at the trade deadline, so he could come up and catch with Ross after that. Hope he finds that power again this year. Realistically may be looking at 2014 for a real shot at the everyday catching job.
*Nava–Great story, no doubt. Always seems to start out hot and this year is no exception. Expect him to cool down. Expect them to try to get Gomes more at-bats to “get him going” at some point too. So his PT will probably wane a little bit. But an easy guy to root for.
*Ortiz–Still think he can get the job done, but the question remains how long his heel will hold up. I see him getting many days of rest to try to keep that thing healthy. But I also see another DL stint in his future, sad to say. I’m ok with the contract however. ‘Roids or no ‘roids, he did a lot more for this franchise than some of the stiffs that were paid much more money than him over the years. This contract is kind of like a “parting gift”. Who cares? The Sox have the money. But I still wouldn’t have given anything to Drew.
*Ross–Probably will get more AB’s than your normal backup. Should be ok. Counted on more for his defense, but should hit a few bombs and not be horrid at the plate. What else can you ask for from your backup catcher?
*Sutton–Just have a gut feeling we will see this guy again. Not a bad 25th guy if it comes down to it. Though I’d rather go younger, especially if you have to open up a 40-man roster spot somehow.