Since A.J. Pierzynski was designated for assignment, the Red Sox won four of their final five games before the break. While taking two apiece against the White Sox and Astros isn’t exactly all that hard, it is a step in the right direction for the Red Sox, who are still trying to make something out of the season.
The final game of the Pierzynski era seemed to be the final straw for many fans. I’ve had my doubts as well, but the AL East just isn’t that great. Even 85 wins or so might earn a playoff spot and the new look Sox could have a chance to make it there.
Pierzynski was once voted as the most hated player in the league by his peers, and apparently many of his Red Sox teammates, had similar feelings for the former catcher. After he was let go, reports started popping up about his negative presence in the clubhouse and the lack of cooperation with his pitchers. Maybe removing this “clubhouse cancer” will actually have a noticeable effect going forward.
His replacement, Christian Vazquez, has already made his mark. Vazquez is 5-11 at the plate so far with three doubles and five RBI’s, and hitting isn’t even his strong suit. The defensive specialist is well-noted for calling a solid game behind the plate and having the ability to change the opposing team’s approach on the base paths.
Fellow rookie call-up Mookie Betts is also improving, and played a big part of Wednesday’s comeback win. His speed has become quite apparent already and if he continues to get on base he can create runs.
Perhaps the one guy who needs the All-Star break more than anyone else is Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts’ average has dropped down to .235 and his OPS has dropped down to .658. Just over a month ago, those numbers were at .304 and .859. Talk about a slump! There’s no doubt the addition of Stephen Drew took a mental toll on Bogaerts, the same Stephen Drew who’s batting .151. At what point does the lack of hitting overcome strong defense?
Jake Peavy may have made his last start in Boston on Saturday. There are plenty of young arms looking to get starts and Peavy’s 4.59 ERA isn’t exactly allowing the Sox to win games. Considering the team rarely scores, it isn’t surprising that he only has one win to his name this year. The Cardinals and Braves have both been rumored to be interested in Peavy, who was of course more successful when he broke into the majors in the National League. Even though the Sox would be “selling” Peavy, it might actually help the team.
The Orioles have jumped to the top of the standings with strong play lately, but who knows if they can keep it up. Even though their 11-0 blowout on Sunday probably won’t mean much to the team when they return on Friday, it may be the boost Clay Buchholz needs to get on the right track. Despite it being against the Astros, Buchholz’s shutout looked very impressive. We shall see if he can have another quality start on the first game back from the break against the Royals.