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.

 

 

 

Jackie Bradley Jr. Watch: Tough Starts Lead to Questions

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to be struggling, but he is great for publicity, right? The last few games were tough on the rookie, hitting nothing at his last 17 plate appearances. Offensively, he has trouble with southpaws, especially with pitches thrown inside. Thursday night Jonny Gomes pinch-hit for him at the end of the seventh inning. Saturday he did not see action because of Tampa Bay’s left handed pitcher, David Price. Defensively, he has trouble with the left field corner, especially those balls that are hit tight to the wall. A higher percentage of players bat right-handed, so there is a high likelihood of balls pulled in that direction. Also, when the outfield shifts towards right field on these batters, it takes him further away from the left field corner. I am surprised because he does get a decent jump on the ball.  Bradley Jr. keeps a close eye on the batter with feet primed for action.

Those are the facts. We cannot keep sitting him out every time there is a left handed pitcher. He cannot avoid parts of left field when playing that position. What is John Farrell going to do? Will they send him down to Pawtucket? There was a lot of talk, before they made the decision to bring him up to the majors, about him playing in every game.  That is not happening as he has sit out 2 out of the last four games. It was so exciting in New York; now the thrill is gone, and questions loom.

If they send him down to Pawtucket, they would need to leave him down there for some time. I do not think that would be a negative. He would play with other talented players who are also working on their games. I think he would learn a tremendous amount from David Ortiz and Bryce Bentz. He could talk to left-handed pitchers like Chris Hernandez to learn how they trip him up at plate. Consistent play and plate appearances would help, too, though this would more likely occur at the double A level. I do not think the organization would demote him that far down the farm system, since it would not benefit Bradley Jr. or the Red Sox.

He creates problems, but these are good problems to have, as so many say. I hate to see him go, but it seems moving him down would be the best scenario for the team right now. Daniel Nava’s performance, in the last few games, is undeniable.

What should the Red Sox do with JBJ?