West Coast Problems: Sox Stuck With Struggling

The Red Sox could not hold their lead after scoring the first 3 runs in yesterday’s game. Making his second start of the season was Eduardo Rodriguez, and for the second consecutive start, Rodriguez looked awful. In his first outing in Seattle last Saturday, E-Rod could not make it out of the 4th inning, as he allowed 8 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), a home run, and 3 walks on 105 pitches. Yesterday, the left-hander could not make it out of the 3rd. He again allowed 8 hits, 6 runs (all earned), a home run, and 3 walks. He threw just 84 pitches and, with the loss, his record now stands at 0-2. The Sox west coast problems have been a combination of mental mistakes, poor pitching, and poor teamplay.

West Coast Problems: Cora at the forefront

“I pay attention to details,” manager Alex Cora told nbcsportsboston.com. “I love payingWest Coast Problems attention to details and that’s something I took pride [in] last year. And right now, we’re not paying attention to details. So that’s on me. That’s on the staff.”

There were several examples of unacceptable decision making from the entire series, but especially from yesterday’s loss. In the 4th inning, Rodriguez allowed a RBI double to Robbie Grossman that gave Oakland a 4-3 lead. Marcus Semien then flied out to center for the inning’s second out. Stephen Piscotty then came to the plate. After hitting a 3-run bomb in his previous at-bat, Piscotty sent a flyball towards the right-center warning track. A miscommunication occurred between two Gold Glove outfielders, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. The ball landed between them and hopped over the wall for a two-run, ground rule double. 6-3, Oakland.

West Coast Problems: Laureano for sure

Later in the game, in the 9th inning, the Sox found themselves down 7-3. Betts had reached first base on a walk. Andrew Benintendi subsequently sent a blooper to short-center field that dropped between Ramon Laureano and Semien. Betts aggressively rounded second and headed towards third, only to be thrown out by Laureano for his third outfield assist of the series. The Red Sox could of had runners on first and second with no outs. Instead, Benintendi was stuck at first with one out. The game ended two batters later.

Red Sox starting pitching this season looks like this: 0-5, 8.44 ERA, 13 home runs allowed, and a .301 BAA. Opponents have compiled a 1.052 OPS. Just to compare apples to apples, here is what the current division leader, Tampa Bay Rays, starting pitching looks like: 4-1, 2.19 ERA, 5 home runs allowed, a .190 BAA and a .570 OPS.

The Sox will attempt to ease the pain of their west coast problems as they play Arizona next starting tonight. Things do not get easier for Boston’s starters, as the team heads into the final series before returning to Fenway for the home opener on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks rank second in runs, home runs, and RBI in the National League through 7 games. They rank first in hits, doubles, and total bases.

Something that is not seen in the box score is how a team cooperates together from a visual perspective. One note I wanted to hit on is what Red Sox Nation knows as the ‘jump hug’ between Brock Holt and J.D. Martinez. Every time Martinez homers, Holt greets him in the dugout with a childlike, inseparable hug and the two jump together to celebrate. The tradition has lasted for about a full year now. I understand that baseball is full of quirky rituals and superstitions, but my question is, why are two grown men celebrating over one sequence when, overall, the team is in flux and in last place? It’s something that has been bugging me.

Boston’s record stands at 2-6 through their first two series. It is their worst start to a begin a season since 2011 when the team started 1-7 under former manager Terry Francona.

Red Sox Fans Watched Jon Lester Struggle Sunday Night

Jon Lester

As Red Sox fans woke up on Easter Sunday morning, they had to be excited that Spring Training games were finally over and their hometown team was opening the season on Monday afternoon in Philadelphia. Before Clay Buccholz and Sox took on Cole Hamels and the Phillies, the season opening game, on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball featured a match-up between NL Central rivals. Jon Lester took the mound for the first time with the Cubs against the Cardinals in prime time.

First off, the choice of teams was a bit of a head scratcher. The Cardinals have been one of the best teams this century, but the Cubs? Jon LesterThe Cubs have been in the basement since Steve Bartman. Why doesn’t Major League Baseball start off the season like the NFL. Have their champion open the season against a rival or a team they beat on their way to a championship? The Patriots will open the NFL season, so the Giants should have opened the MLB season.

As baseball fans tuned into Sunday’s game, some Red Sox fans may still have a sour taste in their mouth. Lester won two World Series’ with the Sox, and many fans felt as if they were teased into thinking he was coming back after a trade deadline deal with Oakland. I felt the trade to Oakland only meant that it would be easier for him not to return, after experiencing another clubhouse, and thinking, “maybe I could play somewhere else.” Lester went on to sign a six year, $155 million deal with the Cubs. The Red Sox came in with an offer substantially lower, so he walked to Theo Epstein and the Cubs, which many felt made the sour taste in their mouth that much more bitter.

The start for Lester did not go as planned. He did not get out of the fifth inning— tossing 4 1/3, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs. The Cubs continue to be the Cubs right? Obviously the Cubs have more talent than they have had in the past decade, so Lester will have better outings this season. With the report of Lester having “dead arm” this spring, one has to think the Cubs will keep an eye on Lester’s pitch count until he is comfortable, but some Cubs fans are holding their breath already while Red Sox fans should be more open-minded about not bringing Lester back.

Many fans have still not let the signing of Lester go, saying the Red Sox need an ace. Ben Cherington will find a top of the rotation starter this season. The Red Sox decided not to pay a pitcher in his 30’s premium money, a move I support. The Yankees are going through a tough time with C.C. Sabathia, as are the Phillies with Cliff Lee. Jon Lester will have some great years in the Chicago but he will also likely not be worth the money in the long run.

Former Red Sox Players on the Oakland Athletics?

oakland athletics

How did all these former Red Sox players end up on the Oakland Athletics?  Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick seem to all have gone West Coast on us. Is it the weather or the team that was the attraction?  Well, it can’t be the weather. They did great against us on Tuesday night in the rain.

Reddick left in August of 2012 and was happy to go, which after the events of that season who could blame him. He said to ESPN that the clubhouse culture was far more “open.” There are strong bonds among the veteran and new players in Oakland; seems as though Reddick just needed a more welcoming home. His performance reinforces this as he earned Golden Glove and MVP honors.

Crisp departed from the Red Sox in 2008, after playing as part of the 2007 World Series Championship team. He was traded to the Kansas City Royals and joined the Athletics in 2009, but did not play until 2011 due to a fractured pinkie finger in 2010. He had his lowest batting average the year that he spent with the Royals batting approximately .288. His career journey has certainly been an interesting one, as he slowly moved across the country.  He seems to be thriving with the A’s this year. Currently, batting .309 and holding down a .420 on base percentage.

They must be doing something right in the clubhouse in California. Whether in California or in Boston, we have all learned in the last year, that if the players are happy then typically they play better. By the time one becomes a professional in any sport, skill and talent are set, and it is the mental wellness that is the ‘X factor.’ Clearly, Crisp, Reddick, and Moss needed the right clubhouse environment to bring out the best in them.

oakland athletics

Courtesy of yahoo.com/blogs/big-league-stew

Reddick and Moss are feeling so positive they were kind enough to visit Boston Marathon bombing victims in hospitals this week. They still love the city of Boston and its fans.