Second Half Questions For the Red Sox

Can you believe it? It’s already Independence day. As I was sitting at my friends’ barbecue, I looked up at the television and saw the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. As I couldn’t help but watch Joey Chestnut impressively devour another record 74 hot dogs in just 10 minutes, a different kind of record peaked my attention. The Red Sox record at the season halfway point of 59-29. A whopping 30 games over .500. It truly is impressive what Alex Cora and this team have done thus far. However, as the day went on and I was baking in the heat, waiting for the fireworks and having a good holiday, I couldn’t help but think of a few questions for the second half of this potential record Red Sox season.

Can J.D. Martinez Continue This Record First Season Pace For the Red Sox?

I have not witnessed such a great Red Sox signing in my lifetime since Manny Ramirez.Red Sox J.D. is often compared to the eccentric Red Sox great, because of his hitting ability, opposite field power, and high annual salary. Martinez seems like the same player just with a lesser personality/more game devoted approach. J.D. is currently hitting .327, with 26 dingers and 71 RBI. If he continues on the pace, he can eclipse the production of Manny Ramirez in his inaugural Red Sox season. Manny finished the 2001 debut campaign batting .306, with 41 home runs and 125 RBI. J.D. is notoriously known as a second-half player. That notion should terrorize opposing pitchers this second half. In fact, no one since the 2017 All-Star break has hit more balls out of the park than Martinez. It will be a fun summer watching J.D. continue to demolish balls at Fenway Park.

When will Dustin Pedroia Be Back In A Red Sox Uniform?

The veteran former MVP Dustin Pedroia is still sidelined. The career .300 hitter has only had 11 official at-bats this year. The Red Sox let go of Hanley Ramirez to bring back Pedroia in late May. However, his knee caused him to head right back to the disabled list in less than a week. Pedroia is, and always has been, the heart and soul of this ball club since his rookie 2007 year. He is the grit, the hustle, and the self-proclaimed laser-show that this team could use, as it chases its third straight division title. Sure these “killer B’s”, Devers, and Martinez have been terrific, but second base has been a carousel of inconsistency. The Red Sox need number 15 back healthy, sooner rather than later.

How Will the Red Sox Approach the Trade Deadline?

The Red Sox have a couple burning holes that need to be addressed. Right handed hitting as well as bullpen relief. The Red Sox already got their right-handed hitter. Last week, Dave Dombrowski acquired Steve Pearce from the rival Toronto Blue Jays. Dombrowski got some right-handed assurance early. That will help the corner infield and corner outfield depth. The other hole is still a question mark. Dombrowski loves to get bullpen help at the deadline, as he got Brad Ziegler two seasons ago and Addison Reed last year. Tyler Thornburg is now back in the majors, after missing a season and a half. We don’t know if he can return to his 2016 Brewers dominant form. Since we don’t know if Thornburg can return to form, I think Dombrowski will most likely get another arm and make yet another deadline splash.

 

 

 

Special Assistants Provide Insight at Spring Training

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Special assistant to the general manager, what does it all mean? More importantly will it work?  The line between the front office and the clubhouse has been blurred. For better or worse, this may be just what the Red Sox need to get them to be a stronger competitor in the AL East. It could also be our undoing if these assistants’ suggestions go unheard by Ben Cherrington.  It is important to note that those chosen for this position are heavily involved with pitching and catching, two areas of weakness for the ball club right now. Will the knowledge from recent retirees, Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek, impart upon the new pitchers and catchers make a difference?  Varitek and Martinez have faced some of the current players. They know the modern day game of baseball. Guest appearances and friendly visits from Tim Wakefield, and others show that the front office realizes they need to do the best with what the team holds.  Varitek can teach his way of doing business, taking notes in the dugout about each batter. Martinez can charm them with his charismatic ways, while he teaches the importance of technique, conditioning, appropriate use of the entire body to create a perfect pitch, and desire to learn more each and every day to get better. Wake can show them a great knuckle-ball.

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Will the focus on pitching be enough? After a few games, we see little attention focused on hits and runs. It is spring training. It is early, yet. Hopefully, things will fall into place regarding the batting order as the season and long rested muscles warm up. Experimenting with this, tweaking that, Farrell, the chemist, tries to come up with the right formula for this team that lacked chemistry last season. If open to suggestions from his talented lab technicians, the assistants to the general manager, Farrell and Cherrington could develop the perfect brew for the upcoming season.  Now is the time for trial and error as this will not be tolerated by fans in July, or heavens forbid, August.