Red Sox First Half Report Card by Position: First Base

Red Sox first half Mike Napoli

The Red Sox have had a slew of guys play first base this year, with six different players making starts there. Mike Napoli has held down the fort for the most part, starting 72 of the 95 games so far, with Mike Carp and Brock Holt getting the second and third most starts.

Nap was brought back this year after a solid first year at the plate and in the field. However, he hasn’t been quite as productive during the Red Sox first half of 2014. Last year, in 139 games, Napoli drove in 92 runs, but in 75 games this year, he only has 34 RBI’s. While he has been getting on base frequently, he is only batting .187 with runners in scoring position. If he is going to continue to bat in the 4th or 5th spot in the lineup, the Sox will need those numbers to go up.

Mike Carp has missed a fair amount of time while on the DL, but he has also under performed. Carp has the ability to add some pop to the lineup against right handed pitching, but with no home runs and only six extra base hits in 38 games, he isn’t fulfilling his role. Like I said, he hasn’t had a chance to play a bunch, but his slugging percentage is down over .200 points. Carp could be at risk of losing his job if he doesn’t pick it up soon.

Mr. Everything, Brock Holt, has also seen some time at first base, but he has recently been playing mostly in the outfield. Obviously, Holt has been one of the best stories of this disappointing season for Red Sox fans, and he left his mark on Sunday, collecting five more hits before the break. We will take a closer look at Holt in the outfield report card.

Mike Napoli- Grade: C+

Mike Carp- Grade: D

Boston Red Sox Outfield Needs Help

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta BravesThrough 59 games, the Boston Red Sox are nine games out of the AL East with a 27-32 record, but are still in the Wild Card picture as they are only four games out of that race with 103 games to go. The main reason has been the struggles of the Red Sox outfield entering Friday’s contest.

Through 724 at-bats on the season, the outfielders have combined to hit .210 with only 11 home runs, among the six outfielders that have played with the Red Sox this season, to go along with 76 RBI.

The struggles have been due to health reasons with Shane Victorino missing a chunk of time, but players like Daniel Nava and Mike Carp have really underperformed most of the 2014 season after playing fairly well in 2013.

As a whole, the outfield is toward the bottom in offensive production when the outfield is usually a steady offensive threat to the better teams in baseball. This does not bode well; a team that has struggled to drive in runners on a consistent basis means it might be time to shake things up before it’s too late.

Maybe Bryce Brentz could make a difference once he returns from the DL in Triple-A or maybe Victorino will be back sooner than expected? If neither of those options pan out, then a trade should be imminent.

Players such as Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown and even Emilio Bonifacio are options that the Red Sox could pursue. Bonifacio is the most interesting because he can bat leadoff with a solid glove. Sure, Byrd and Brown are both power bats, but deepening the lineup with a speedster at the top is another way the Red Sox can get production out of the rest of the lineup.

Whatever the Red Sox decide to do, it needs to happen before a playoff spot is too far out of sight. The team has already decided to save the season with the Stephen Drew signing, so a missed opportunity might not go over so well with fans.

Mike Carp Is The Red Sox Utility Man

mikecarpbig.r The last 12 months have been a tremendous ride for Mike Carp. On February 20, 2013, he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners after they designated him for assignment. Not only did Carp earn a Red Sox roster spot after he was not guaranteed one last spring, he was a contributor on the eventual World Series Champion’s team.

No matter what position manager John Farrell placed Carp last season, he played it exceedingly well. In his 43 outfield chances, he did not make a single error. Carp was the Red Sox utility man last season as he played 41 games in left field, 29 at first base, five as a designated hitter and two in right field.

Not only was Carp a good player in the field, he was also valuable at the plate. In his 216 at-bats last season, he hit .296 with nine homeruns and had an impressive OPS of .885. It didn’t matter if David Ortiz, Mike Napoli or any of the outfielders needed a day off, Carp was ready when his number was called.

Carp also made an impact in pitch hit situations last season. In a game last September against the Tampa Bay Rays, Carp connected on a game-winning pinch-hit grand slam in the top of the 10th inning to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3.

The Red Sox are lucky to have a left-handed bat like Carp who is versatile enough to play a number of different positions. Carp may not be the most well-known Red Sox player, but he certain showed last season why he belongs on their team.

Holy Carp and Set-Up Men Off the Hook Again

mike carp holy carp

Wow, Mike Carp, just WOW! Instead of “Holy Mackerel,” the people of Boston should say “Holy CARP!” from here on out. Who knew he had it in him?

Last Wednesday was a perfect example of the Red Sox down in runs, then pulling themselves up by their offensive bootstraps to earn the win. The comparisons to the 2004 team, though hackneyed at this point, are seemingly legitimate. After all, when was the last time we saw play like this by our beloved team? Ok, maybe it was a few games ago. I’ll give you that one.

God love Ryan Dempster for consistently earning “no decisions” during his starts in the last month. He must have a horseshoe stashed somewhere on his person. The offense has rallied back for him on a number of those no decision games. I am sure his fellow starting pitchers fume over his luck.

The real problem, which put the Sox into this situation, is the lack of set-up men in the bullpen. The similarities between the middle men on the defensive side and the middle of the lineup on the offensive side are uncanny. There is a dip in performance on both sides. Defensively, what is there to do, but determine through trial and error what the best mixture of pitchers will precede closer Koji Uehara? John Farrell’s calculated changes work for this team. Perhaps changes can help with pitching.

One other question remains with regard to the offense: must we rely on what seems to be a team of clutch hitters to get us through the American League Division Series? It seems the answer is “Yes.” These guys have a dramatic flair. Games are not over till them over; thus is the fight, grit, and stick-to-itiveness of this Red Sox team.

Red Sox’s Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes Shine

Red Sox's Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes

Courtesy of nashuatelegram.com

It takes a big woman to admit that she is wrong. And I was.

I was terribly wrong about the Red Sox’s Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes. Others felt the same way, which made me more confident that I was right about these two guys. Before the season even started no one was hot on them. I had a colleague say, “Who’s going to play left, Jonny Gomes, or Mike Carp?” with a sneer on his face. The facts were hard to ignore, too.   Batting averages were well, average. The performance on the field ran hot and cold. And do we even need to get into Gomes’ weird red beard that screams Yosemite Sam? Carp and Gomes were best described as one step from greatness. Now, they are great, especially in a pinch.

In the last few games, specifically Wednesday, July 3rd’s game, Gomes and Carp were afire. Carp at first base. Initially I thought, “Oh no.” He made some plays, though. He played a pretty solid first base making a catch right in front of the dugout. He continued to play strong defense at first on Wednesday, keeping players from advancing. Carp can do the work there while Mike Napoli gets the rest days he may need. No one should be whining about Nap getting some rest days, since that was on the table at the very beginning of the season. Please, shut up about it. Mike Napoli is an outstanding player, but we all know the truth about his hip situation, so let’s not try and rewrite history, whining and moaning about his not being on the bag every night. This is another case of selective amnesia in Boston. It must be the heat.

red sox's mike carp and jonny gomes

Courtesy of aattp.org

But Gomes, Yosemite Gomes, you made the game Wednesday night with both guns blazing. Staring down the barrel of a 2-2 count, you swung and got the fireworks started on Independence Day Eve over the Green Monster. On the Fourth of July, he continued to produce in the seventh inning and raised his batting average to the mid .300s.  Defensively, he has proven himself strong in left field. He made a solid catch in the 3rd inning displaying his reliability.

My colleague’s comment in April snuffed out with one swing of the bat.

“That is a walk off home run for Jonny Gomes.” There is a sentence no one ever thought they would here Don Orsillo say at the beginning of the season.

We were wrong about you.

Yosemite prove yourself right every night, as we approach the All-Star break. I know I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

Some Players Not Contributing to Red Sox Offense

red sox offense

Jonny, how about you spend less time on your hair and more time swinging a bat? Courtesy of bostonherald.com

Here are a few things that bug me about the Red Sox offense despite its recent resurgence.

First on the offensive hit list (pardon the pun) is Mike Carp. Carp, please pick a lane, and pick the right one. For the sake of the Red Sox, please pick the lane where you score runs and don’t live up to the dead version of your last name. The last time I wrote about you, a carp fishing organization followed me on Twitter. I found it oddly appropriate. One day you produce no runs. The next two days you put together an outstanding offensive performance. Be consistent. Pick a lane. All this swerving back and forth will get you cited for reckless driving—or worse, optioned down to triple-A.

Stephen Drew. ‘Nuff said. He puts the world to sleep when he speaks to the media and when holding a bat. He has been hitless for his last 17 at-bats due to injury. The man is like Samuel L. Jackson’s character “Mr. Glass” in Unbreakable. Thankfully, they brought back up the talented Jose Iglesias from Pawtucket for the May 24th game. Offensively, Iggy still can’t hit the long ball, but he does get on base. He does hit.

Finally, Jonny Gomes wasn’t even in the lineup the other night against the Phillies. With a .176 batting average it just wasn’t worth it. If he would just make contact with the ball and get on base that would help. Gomes has been in the wrong place at the wrong time for a long time. He was batting second before Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Pedroia or Papi could score Gomes, but he is too scared to go all the way. I know what that feels like. I experienced it in high school. You get over it rather quickly once you realize how good it feels.

In spite of these liabilities, the team has done an exceptional job of scoring runs thanks to Pedroia, Ortiz, Daniel Nava and Jacoby Ellsbury’s recent success. Over the course of last week, Farrell saw that some changes needed to be made, and he made them. Let’s see if they hold water. Farrell can always circle the wagons again after testing the current mix of players.