The Biggest Red Sox Disappointment in the First Half

The Red Sox went through an up-and-down first half of the 2017 season. Through it all, they went into the All-Star Break in first place in the AL East. Unfortunately, I was going to write a blog about the biggest pleasant surprise on this team, but the biggest Red Sox disappointment is waaaaaaay easier to figure out.

Baseball pundits outside of Boston were choking on their peanuts and cracker jacks last biggest Red Sox disappointmentNovember with the AL Cy Young announcement. Even though Justin Verlander had more first place votes, Rick Porcello took home the award. Porcello led the league with 22 wins but Kate Upton was the star of the night with her vexed tweets. With Porcello’s 2017 season to date, that seems like a long, long time ago.

Obviously, we didn’t expect Porcello to duplicate his 2016 season. He has never had a season like that in his career, it was clearly an anomaly. Most of us, however, expected better than this. Those who thought he had figured it out and was going to be a viable top-line pitcher were very wrong. He’s put together some good starts recently but the numbers can not be ignored.

Porcello’s Numbers Have Been Nothing But Disappointing

After leading the league in wins last year, Porcello has kept his trend of staying among the league leaders. Instead of wins, though, he leads the AL in losses (11), hits allowed (147) and batters faced (525). Nearly every time out, he’ll struggle out of the gate. That wasn’t uncommon last year, but instead of one or two runs allowed, it’s now three or four. Without the most run support in the league, that has translated to a 4-11 record.

Porcello’s biggest problem has been a glaring lack of control. Like we’ve seen from David Price this year, Porcello’s location has been dreadful. With a sinker that doesn’t sink, he’s been a hopeless, scared puppy on the mound. That explains why his K-BB ratio is the second best of his career but still leads the league in hits allowed. His WHIP has gone down to 1.43, still too high for the defending Cy Young winner.

Because of his recent uptrend, Porcello has gone from “sucked” to just “disappointment.” Fortunately for him, however, the Red Sox are still in first. With their success, the heat hasn’t really come down on Porcello. I’ve got news for you Pretty Ricky, your awful numbers aren’t sneaking past me. You’re the biggest Red Sox disappointment of the first half of 2017. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Honorable mention: Hanley Ramirez. But you’ve already read my story on that and look what’s happened since.

Red Sox Poised for a Huge Yankees Series

Alas, they have come. The two most agonizing days of the baseball season are upon us. While we await baseball after the All-Star break, the Red Sox will start their second half with a bang. Yes, it’s a Yankees series that waits in the wings, and it’s a crucial one.

Mookie Betts, Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel can enjoy their final mimosas iYankees seriesn Miami, but Friday marks their return. The trip will take them home to Boston and the business is to prove they really are the best team in the AL East. After losing a series in Tampa, four games in three days against the Yankees is going to be a great measuring stick for this team.

Personally, I think the Yankees have seen their best days already in 2017. They scuffled mightily in June going 13-15 and rode that wave into a 2-6 July. The lack of pitching has caught up to them and the holes are beginning to sink New York’s ship. The Yankees have drowned in fortune this year (Aaron Judge, for one) and are still only tied for second place with the upstart Rays.

Even though they are in something of a rebuild, albeit ahead of schedule, don’t be surprised if the Yankees make waves on the trade deadline. A starter like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole could very well be in pinstripes come August 1st. That, however, shouldn’t carry them over the Red Sox if Boston can handle their business like they should this month. Again, it starts with this series.

Red Sox-Yankees Series Will Start With Pitching

A red hot Drew Pomeranz will get the start Friday. Even though there’s no excuse for Chris Sale not to start and get off on the right foot, it will be Pomeranz. Although he can be frustrating to watch, Pomeranz seems to have returned to his All-Star form he had in 2016. Nonetheless, Sale will go Saturday and if the Yankees have a daddy, he wears #41 for the Red Sox. He OWNS them.

Furthermore, the Red Sox will need to get the offense back and hitting consistently. They mustered just four runs in their three losses in Tampa. They looked like a completely different team than the one we saw in Toronto the week before. It’s been all or nothing for the Red Sox offense this year. As a result ,the starter’s with the lowest ERA in the league is in danger of losing first place. It has been rare for the Red Sox to get the offense and pitching going at the same time the last two years. Obviously, they’ll need to correct that sooner rather than later to extend their lead.

So get ready to dive back head first into baseball Friday night. After that, you won’t be able to rid the sport until October so just make it to Friday people. If both these teams can continue to stay at each other’s necks this year, we could have what we’ve been waiting years for. We could have a rivalry again.

Is Xander Bogaerts All-Star Worthy?

Now more than halfway through the baseball season, the 88th MLB All-Star Game is just a week away. A selection show on ESPN reminiscent of Selection Sunday in college basketball revealed three Red Sox are going to Miami. Mookie Betts and Craig Kimbrel will be reserves and Chris Sale could very well be the AL’s starting pitcher. When you fill out your vote for the final ballot ask yourself: is Xander Bogaerts All-Star Worthy?

Red Sox fans can remember in 2015 when the “X for ASG” campaign failed to get Xander Bogaerts All-StarBogaerts in on the final ballot vote. After being the league’s starting shortstop in 2016, Bogaerts is right back in the final ballot scenario. A tireless workhorse this year, Bogaerts finds himself in a log-jammed position behind stars like Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. Let’s see if he deserves a spot among the best.

In the final five players eligible for the final vote, there are three shortstops. Among those three, Bogaerts is by far the best and has the best numbers. So he has that going for him, which is nice. DiDi Gregorious has missed too much time to catch up to Bogaerts and Elvis Andrus just doesn’t matchup in any facet. Mike Moustakas has some great power numbers but nothing else and Logan Morrison is the last guy on the ballot and if you don’t know who he is you certainly aren’t alone.

As far as his numbers go, they are All-Star worthy. Among AL shortstops, Bogaerts ranks second in hits (95), batting average (.314), OBP (.366) and doubles (20). He is also first in triples (4) and third in runs scored (49). Not to be lost in this, he has been the most consistent hitter on a first place team. Gregorious’ team is behind his in the standings and Andrus’ Rangers are below .500. Bogaerts has been a catalyst on a team that’s one of the hottest in baseball at the moment.

Moving on from pure statistics, Bogaerts is one of the best defenders in arguably the most important position on the diamond. Rare is it that he ever makes an error or is out of position. Much like Carlos Correa, he is a big guy with exceptional range and make spectacular plays moving to their left. I’d go as far as saying that Bogaerts is a carbon copy of Correa minus the power. Obviously that’s a big distinction but he does everything else at an All-Star level.

So yeah, Bogaerts should be an All-Star. Unfortunately for him and Red Sox fans, All-Star voting is seldom about who should be in the game. I think he’s the best player available on the final ballot. There’s something we do have to take in consideration though: one of the other guys is a Royal. With a mediocre team in a mediocre city, those Royals fans have nothing better to do than vote for their players all day. All I’m saying is Bogaerts deserves a spot but don’t be surprised if it’s Mike Moustakas.

Where Is The Uproar For Hanley Ramirez’s Slump?

While the Red Sox still sit in first place in the East, they have had their fair share of disappointments this year. Injuries, unfulfilled contracts, and astronomical ERA’s have low- lighted 2017. Not to be lost in these disappointments is Hanley Ramirez’s slump, although you won’t hear too much about it.

Ramirez’s brutal 2017 season so far has been swept under the rug. Whether it be Pablo Hanley Ramirez's slumpSandoval’s contract, John Farrell’s questionable managing or a pitcher blowing up on a reporter, there has always been something to talk about. If you don’t quite understand the severity of Ramirez’s ineptness, I won’t blame you. I’m here, however, to enlighten you. Buckle in.

It seemed Hanley Ramirez would finally be comfortable in a Red Sox uniform this year. He is finally the DH and would feasibly only play first base about twice a week. With all this time to focus on hitting, it makes you wonder how much Hanley’s got going on up there. Ramirez is hitting .241 with just a .747 OPS. You want to argue he’s just a power hitter? What power hitter do you know only has 17 extra base hits (7 doubles and 10 homers) and 29 RBI in June? That’s your DESIGNATED HITTER Red Sox fans.

Might I remind you, this is the American League. We (usually) don’t have to go through the bore every night of watching a pitcher trying to hit. With Ramirez, however, you may as well be a National League team. Sometimes, I’d rather see Chris Sale in the lineup than Hanley Ramirez. No matter where John Farrell has put him in the lineup, he just can’t hit. They’ve tried so hard to make Ramirez comfortable I fear he may be too comfortable to play baseball on a high level.

Hanley Ramirez’s Slump Is At The Plate And On The Field

Speaking of comfortability, I assure you there are guys playing in the field who are much more uncomfortable than Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez’s phantom shoulder injury has kept him out of playing first base, even in NL parks. Who is playing first base over him? Mitch Moreland. Yes, the Mitch Moreland who has a fractured toe and is still playing Gold Glove caliber defense. Since Ramirez refuses to gut it out and play, Moreland is forced to be a wounded duck out there. On that topic I leave you with this: how many throws do you see a first baseman make?

Luckily for Ramirez, he will never be the worst Red Sox acquisition of 2015. Pablo Sandoval may be the worst Red Sox signing ever and Rick Porcello has massively underachieved this season. This isn’t even on pace to be his worst season of production in Boston. In 2015, he had 12 doubles and 19 homers. This year, he’s on pace to smash that with a whole 14 doubles and 20 homers. That is NOT the production of a DH on a playoff team.

So I urge you Red Sox fans: pay attention to this clown. Boo him, put for sale signs on his lawn, I don’t care. Do something to convince me you aren’t a bunch of pink hats and actually know something about this team. I thought he was going to get it together, but time’s a wasting Hanley, David Ortiz isn’t gonna save you now.

What is Pablo Sandoval’s Role Here?

The Pablo Sandoval experiment in Boston has been a bigger mess than anything we’ve ever seen from this franchise. There have been some bad signings, but this one is the worst. Like a scene from the movie “Office Space” I must ask: What is Pablo Sandoval’s role here?

Let me be very clear: Pablo Sandoval has played his last game with the Boston Red Sox. Pablo Sandoval's RoleWhen you break down his game to the basics, it becomes very simple. He can’t hit and he can’t play the field. He’s a liability at third base and he can’t DH because he doesn’t even deserve to be called a hitter. He’s a switch hitter who can’t hit right-handed and he can’t pinch run. He is just a blob of mass with a Red Sox cap on.

His last moment with the Red Sox was as fitting as they come. John Farrell pinch-hit for him in a crucial point in the game because there was a 0% chance Sandoval would keep the rally going. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Well, the Red Sox had no infielders left. Farrell put Christian Vazquez at third base for the ninth in one of my favorite moves he’s ever made. A guy who hadn’t played third since rookie ball was a better option than Sandoval.

For all the criticism I have for Farrell, I can no longer fault him for the Sandoval fiasco. This is all Dave Dombrowski’s crap at this point. This is all about Dombrowski’s reputation and not trying to burn up the $50 million he owes Sandoval this year. Farrell has been rendered completely helpless with his third baseman. There was no competition this spring training, handing Sandoval the job from day one. Oh how well that has worked out.

Pablo Sandoval’s Role Has Been Hurting the Red Sox

In 2017, Sandoval has graced Boston with a .212 average and has as many doubles as DL stints (2). He has an atrocious .269 OBP, a WAR of -0.9 and can’t hit lefties. In the field, he has five errors this year. That may not seem awful but those are only the plays he can actually waddle over to touch the ball. That doesn’t even cover the complete ineptness he has at third base. He’s an automatic out at the plate and anything but in the field.

Dombrowski has put Farrell in a really tough position, which brings us to Sandoval’s current status. He was put on the DL this week with an ear infection. Yes, an ear infection. Dave O’Brien tried passionately to convince us on the NESN broadcast that it was a real injury but come on. He’s one of the worst players in the league and he has a cough so it works perfectly. This is the phoniest injury of all phony injuries. Unfortunately, that’s all the Red Sox can afford to do right now.

So what is Pablo Sandoval’s role right now? Well realistically, he is the pawn for media fodder. As far as a baseball field, he shouldn’t be allowed on one anymore. He is the biggest waste of space the Red Sox have had this decade, maybe ever. His last hooray mixed with the broken belt incident are the two lasting memories we will have for him. The quicker the Red Sox dump him, the better I will feel about this season. So long Pablo, don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out, even though it’s nearly impossible to miss.

Craig Kimbrel’s Dominance is What Red Sox Traded For

One of Dave Dombrowski’s first moves as Red Sox President of Baseball Operations was trading for established closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel came from San Diego for a slew of prospects. At that point, he was one of the most accomplished closers in baseball, the fastest in major league history to reach 200 saves. It took a year, but we’re starting to see Craig Kimbrel’s dominance that made the trade such a bargain.

Kimbrel’s first season in Boston wasn’t exactly his best. By no means was it bad but theCraig Kimbrel's dominance back of his jersey could’ve aptly said “Cardiac Arrest” over his number 46. In his 53 innings of work, he surrendered 30 walks and four home runs and only recorded 31 saves. While that last statistic may not seem bad, he already has 17 saves this season not yet halfway through. Kimbrel’s defining moment of the 2016 season may be when he gave up a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira after the Red Sox had already clinched the division.

This season has been much like a typical Kimbrel one and then some. In a word, he has been dominant. Like ridiculously dominant. He is 17 of 18 in save opportunities and his WHIP is a minuscule 0.49. On top of leading the league in saves, he has struck out an astronomical 53 of the 96 batters he has faced.

Reasonably so with those numbers, he has been a lot more comfortable to watch as a fan. His fastball is once again living in the 97-99 MPH range and he has had no trouble locating his slider of curve ball. It was the lack of breaking ball control last year that attributed to all those walks. Now, however, batters can’t even touch the 29 year-old. Kimbrel’s performance this season is a big reason why the Red Sox have an outstanding record hen leading after seven innings.

Why Was Craig Kimbrel’s Dominance Missing in 2016?

The masterful work of the Red Sox closer this year brings up a lot of questions about his 2016 season. Personally, I don’t think Kimbrel was 100% healthy last year. He missed a few weeks in July with a knee injury but I think it was more than that. He had horrendous location for the first time in his career. Also, you have to take into account where they got him from. He was traded from the Padres, who sent damaged goods over in Drew Pomeranz without telling the Red Sox he was hurt. I think there’s a very real possibility they did the same with Kimbrel.

If Kimbrel can keep up this pace, it will be nothing but great news for the Red Sox. Like having a clutch, dependable kicker in football, having a top-notch closer is essential to a championship team. It changes how you manage late in a game. With the incompetence of John Farrell, a good closer can correct a lot of his mistakes. Honestly, If Kimbrel is half the closer he has been so far, the Red Sox are in good shape. Yes, he’s been that good.