It’s Time To Fire John Farrell

The Red Sox need do to something. Unfortunately, all they know how to do is lose right now. At this juncture, the Red Sox are a complete embarrassment. They have put a surprising boycott on winning games and have showed the attitude of a small child off the field. The move they need to make is not this Eduardo Nunez trade, it’s to fire John Farrell.

Being totally honest, I think Farrell was a much worse game manager last year than this Fire John Farrellyear. This year, I think Dave Dombrowski has put his manager in tough situations at points. With management forcing him to have Pablo Sandoval, that limited Farrell’s options. Sandoval, however, is gone. Gone forever.

The problem really hasn’t even been his on-field decision making. He’s had a excruciatingly hard time managing his bullpen, which has been fledgeling lately. The real problem is he has lost control of his team. Whining from their veteran second baseman, throwing teammates under the bus, and your $217 million pitcher calling out a Hall of Fame broadcaster are just the highlights of a season full of BS. All this could be glossed over if they would win, but they aren’t capable of that right now.

Let it not be lost that the players have been underwhelming. It’s not just one or two players, every non-pitcher has been underwhelming. I wish that was hyperbole, but it’s not. So yeah, the players are certainly at fault. To some extent, though, a good manager should have these guys turning things around before August. Now, it might be too late.

Luckily for him, the starting pitching has been excellent. Through no support, they’ve kept their team in games. The Red Sox are the luckiest first place team I’ve ever seen. They haven’t won a series since the Fourth of July and yet everyone else in the division continues to lose. Their standing in the division is a complete mirage. For a team that keeps saying they have yet to “hit their stride”, they are running out of time.

Fire John Farrell and Others

Obviously, the problem has been the offense. If nothing else, Chili Davis should definitely be fired. In fact, he shouldn’t even be on this upcoming home stand. If they aren’t the worst offense in the league, they’re certainly the most predictable. They refuse to swing at the first two strikes and never make any adjustments. How many times do we see Jackie Bradley strike out swinging on a low change-up? How many times do we see Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts whiff on a pitch way off outside part of the plate? What coach doesn’t correct that. This offense has been nothing short of a joke, and why Davis is still here is just silly.

This team has no idea what it’s doing right now. After seemingly abandoning the third base trade, they called up their top prospect Rafael Devers. Before he could even finish his first game, they traded for a third baseman. Tuesday, the organization said they are interested in acquiring a first baseman. A first baseman? They have two of those in the majors and Sam Travis in AAA. If Travis is going to be their first baseman next year, it’s time for him to play. Moreland sucks and Hanley Ramirez refuses to play the field (and God forbid his manager make him do that). So if that’s the case, bring up Travis and play him five days a week. Is that so much to ask for?

Currently, the Boston Red Sox are in complete disarray. So yeah, it’s not exactly ideal, but you should fire Farrell. Fire Chili Davis while you’re at it. Gary DiSarcina would obviously step in to manage. Hire anyone you want for the hitting coach, just show you give a damn.  Right now, it’s hard to believe they care. No apologies for Dennis Eckersley, no repercussions for the crying infant David Price, no feel for what direction they’re going in. It’s time to light a fire under these guys and at this point, this might be the only way to do that.

Red Sox Lose Seventh Straight Game

The Red Sox continued their losing ways last night, dropping their seventh consecutive game with a 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros. It marked their eighth loss in the last ten games, and further cemented their position in the cellar of the American League.

Since the All-Star break, the Sox have been outscored 34-9, and they have a batting Red Sox Astros July 2015average of an anemic .192. They have one home run in this period, while giving up thirteen. The Sox were shut out in the first two games of this trip, and haven’t even scored in consecutive innings yet. Their four total runs in the series against the Angels were their fewest in a series of four or more games since 1965.  Yes, that’s 50 years.

Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, who are supposed to be table-setters, can’t even get a seat at the table.  They are a combined 2 for 42.  Betts is 1 for 20, and didn’t even play last night, while Pedroia finally snapped an 0 for 20 drought in the most recent loss.

Also in the throes of repair at the plate is the $19,750,000 per year outfielder Hanley Ramirez. He is 2 for 21 in the last six, with a team-high seven strikeouts.

How about the starting pitching staff?  They haven’t reminded anybody of Cy Young. Since the break, they are 0-5 with an ERA of 7.31. One upside from the pitchers is that Wade Miley had a solid outing last time out, not giving up a hit through six innings. He’ll try to snap this season-high team losing streak tonight.

Miley actually had a perfect game going through 5 1/3 innings against the Angels and ended up allowing just two hits and one walk in seven innings…but still took a no decision.

Where things go from here is anybody’s guess.  We haven’t mentioned Clay Buchholz getting a platelet-rich-plasma injection into his right elbow. Who knows when he’ll be back, but don’t look for him for at least a few weeks, and if by late August the Sox are 20 games out, or 25, is it even worth it to bring him back?

The Red Sox are Losing at the Worst Possible Time

In a season of perpetual disappointment, the Red Sox chose the worst possible time to embark on a long losing streak. Just as momentum was building, and fans began to see a glimmer of light, Boston lost two of three to New York prior to the All-Star Game, before stumbling to five straight defeats to start the second half.

All told, John Farell’s hapless team has lost six consecutive games, falling back to 42-52,Red Sox ten games adrift of the division-leading Yankees. Cautiously optimistic just two weeks ago, the Red Sox now have the worst record in the American League. This latest slump may be terminal.

The $166m Sox have been outscored 29-7 in their last five games. In fact, Boston’s -66 run differential on the season is third-worst in baseball, behind only the woeful Phillies and spluttering White Sox. Such a stat is emblematic of the Red Sox’ struggles, and obviously descriptive of a painfully unbalanced baseball team.

However, at this point, it’s difficult to see Ben Cherington making any moves to improve his lopsided roster. According to Fangraphs, the Red Sox have just a 2.1% chance of winning the AL East, while the likelihood of securing a Wildcard spot rests at 5.7%. For a front office that adores statistical analysis, those are particularly damning numbers. And, no matter how frustrated Red Sox Nation becomes, this hierarchy simply won’t mortgage the future to acquire a player who, at best, will enhance their chances of reaching a sudden-death Wildcard playoff from practically impossible to not gonna happen.

Now, the more likely scenario is the Red Sox selling off any excess big league pieces. At this point, Boston can only hope to retool and begin planning for 2016. Despite chronic batting average problems, Mike Napoli may interest a team hungry for power. Similarly, Shane Victorino may pique the interest of a contender searching for speed and experience atop its batting order. Even Koji Uehara may be dangled, tempting innumerable teams looking for bullpen help.

In the bigger picture, perhaps moving these ageing players would be beneficial to the Red Sox, who could finally grant extended playing time to Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr and Allen Craig, evaluating once and for all what those players actually are, and where they actually fit moving forward.

Yet, even this may be troublesome. It remains to be seen whether Ben Cherington has the energy and wherewithal to blow up his roster for the third time in four seasons as Red Sox GM. More to the point, will John Henry allow him to do so, and risk the crown jewel of his business empire becoming synonymous with failure, false dawns and fire sales?

Regardless of the next step, the Red Sox once again find themselves in a sorry state. Once again, this team appears dead before August has even arrived. And, amid an ocean of statistics and records speaking to this team’s wide-reaching ineptitude, that may be the most resounding reality of all.

The Red Sox Must Begin to Deliver

Red Sox

It’s time for the Red Sox to deliver. John Henry likely said as much, when, on Tuesday, he met with General Manager Ben Cherington, Manager John Farrell and the entire Front Office in search of solutions to another disappointing start.

Whilst optimistic overall, the principal owner told Jon Miller of WBZ that “we made a lot of moves this winter to shore up our pitching and our hitting, but we haven’t seen results yet.”Red Sox

Indeed, this lack of results is in danger of becoming a recurring theme of Cherington’s tenure. Aside from 2013, when the Sox caught lightning in a bottle and rode a crest of immense civic emotion to a sublime championship, the Olde Towne Team has been fairly mediocre throughout his premiership. In fact, since Cherington was promoted to General Manager before the 2012 season, Boston is just 250-263, despite spending more than $659 million in payroll. Needless to say, that represents by far the worst cost-per-win ratio of any GM presently working in the Major Leagues.

In three full seasons as head of the Fenway think-tank, Cherington has delivered just one admittedly glorious postseason berth, sandwiched between last place finishes where the team finished 25 and 26 games behind the division winner, respectively. A poor start this season, with the Sox under .500 at the time of writing, has many people wondering whether 2013 was truly an aberration and the continued flirtation with cellar-dweller status is a more accurate representation of Cherington’s skills.

I don’t mean to lead an anti-Cherington crusade. Far from it. I actually like the man, and think he has all the attributes to be a sharp and perceptive, big-market GM. But, at this point, I’m more than a little worried about the core philosophy which lies at the bedrock of Boston baseball. Just who are the Red Sox anymore, and where are they headed?

The failure to pay Jon Lester, coupled with a thorough negligence of elite starting pitching, has led to discomfort in Red Sox Nation. That discomfort turned to disquiet last week, as the Sox dipped below .500 and sunk to the bottom of a weak AL East. It’s incredibly frustrating, because, in my opinion, there is a major opportunity to contend right now, but the Red Sox don’t seem ready, or able, to take advantage.

We hear so much about the starting rotation, but, oftentimes, the severity of the situation doesn’t become apparent until you stop and actually contemplate what is happening. Why does the Front Office persist with Clay Buchholz, let alone consider him an ace? Why do we accept Wade Miley and Joe Kelly as anything other than back-of-the-rotation starters? Why are we messing around here? This is Boston, not Minnesota. The Red Sox fans who so loyally fill Fenway Park deserve so much better.

 

Boston Red SoxIt’s not that ownership isn’t spending money, because it is. Rather, the way it is spending, with an unbalanced investment in offense at the obvious detriment of pitching, is hard to understand. Right now, I think people are becoming fatigued by the way this $173 million team needs to make such a high-stakes drama out of grinding each and every win. Nothing is coming easy, because the team is lopsided and askew in its fundamental makeup.

Thus, following a strange few years and another disappointing start, we’re reaching a critical juncture for Red Sox management and the team it constructs. It’s time this ball club showed it’s true face. It’s time to begin setting high standards again. It’s time to deliver, plain and simple.

Red Sox Drop Fourth Straight; Hanley Ramirez Hurt

Hanley Ramirez hurt

Not only did the Red Sox lose for the fourth straight time last night, but even worse is the news that their best hitter, Hanley Ramirez, was hurt and left the game before he even had a chance to bat. The left fielder was injured when he slammed into a padded wall adjacent to the Green Monster while sprinting after a line drive in the first inning of a game they would eventually lose, 5-1, to the Tampa Bay Rays.

After the game, news spread that Ramirez had a sprained left shoulder, news that is not particularly encouraging given the fact that he has already had two operations on this Hanley Ramirez hurtshoulder in the past 8 years. How the team will fill this void appears to be a monumental task. Entering the game, Ramirez led the Sox in home runs with 10, RBIs with 22 and OPS at .949. His .283 batting average was fourth on the team.

Last night’s game came on the heels of being swept at home over the weekend by the New York Yankees. That marked the first time the Bronx Bombers have swept the Sox at Fenway Park since August of 2006, when they did it under Joe Torre.

Sunday night was not without the usual New York-Boston drama. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Yankees starter Adam Warren plunked Hanley Ramirez, and the Red Sox responded two innings later when Edward Mujica hit Jacoby Ellsbury with a 3-0 pitch after the center fielder had singled in each of his first four at-bats. Homeplate umpire Jeff Nelson then issued a warning to both benches as CC Sabathia waddled out of the Yankees’ third-base dugout to stare at Mujica, and the Yankees’ bullpen acted with false machismo as though they would enter the action if it escalated. (Why can’t bullpens just fight in the outfield?  Why bother running all the way to the infield?)

To provide some more depressing news, the last time the Red Sox have led in a game was in the fourth inning of Friday night’s game. Without the offense of Ramirez, they have an uphill climb in front of them.

What is Wrong With the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

OK, I will go ahead and say what every baseball fan is thinking: what the hell has happened to the Boston Red Sox?! What happened to the team that went 97-65 last year and won the World Series? This team isn’t even remotely close to the team we saw raise the World Series trophy last October.

The low point of the 2014 season happened on Thursday when the Red Sox were routed by the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park 7-2. The loss was Boston’s seventh in a row.

The Red Sox went winless on their home stand for the first time in 20 years. Boston has a multitude of issues right now, the first of which is their lack of offense.

Last season, the Red Sox had one of the best offenses in baseball as they were second in the AL in batting average and fifth in homeruns. This season, Boston is 22nd in the majors in hitting as the team is averaging .245. They are also 19th in runs scored.

David Ortiz, who is having another All-Star like season, doesn’t have any protection in the lineup. The Red Sox also don’t have a true lead-off hitter who can take walks and steal bases batting in front of Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz.

First baseman Mike Napoli has missed the last two games with flu-like symptoms, so that hasn’t helped. While he hasn’t had a homerun since April 22, Napoli still provides enough of a threat that teams have to be careful about walking Ortiz.

The signing of shortstop Stephen Drew will help the Red Sox offense a bit since he was .284 with nine home runs against right-handed pitchers last season. However, the team still needs players like Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. to improve on their batting average and production.

The biggest and probably the most shocking issue for the Red Sox right now is the way their starting pitching has performed in 2014.  Clay Buchholz has been plain awful as he has a 2-4 record and a 6.32 ERA. His ERA is the second-highest among all major league pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings.

Only Minnesota’s Kevin Correia (6.52) has a worse ERA than Buchholz, who has given up 14 runs on 29 hits in his last 15 innings. Buchholz isn’t the only pitcher struggling for the Red Sox right now.

Felix Doubront has been inconsistent as he has a 2-4 record with a 5.12 ERA. Jake Peavy has already given up nine home runs in nine games the season.

Jon Lester, Thursday’s game aside, has been the Red Sox best pitcher, and John Lackey has been steady throughout the season. The problem is the Red Sox need more consistency in the three, four and five spots in the rotation.

There aren’t any immediate plans to bring up Brandon Workman and/or Allen Webster from Triple-A, but if the bottom of the rotation continues to struggle, the team may have to think about bringing one or both of them up.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski has also been labeled as a problem for the Red Sox and for good reason. He has been behind the plate for four of Jon Lester’s starts, including yesterday when the pitcher allowed seven runs in the first two innings. Lester is 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA while working with Pierzynski this season. When backup catcher David Ross is behind the plate, Lester is 4-2 with a 1.92 ERA.

On May 23, 2013, the Red Sox were 28-20. This year, they are 20-26 and in fourth place in the AL East. Only Houston and Tampa Bay have more losses than Boston.

So while it is only May, the Red Sox really need to start to turn it around now. With the Braves, Tigers and Orioles all on the schedule in the next couple of weeks, the team really can’t afford to get in a deeper hole than they are already in.