The Red Sox are within a game or two of capturing first place. It’s miracle in its own right if you consider the Red Sox dead weight. Pablo Sandoval isn’t panning out. Sandy Leon’s flash in the pan hitting last year isn’t carrying into this season. Rick Porcello leads the league in losses at 9. If the Red Sox are going to capture first place they need to cut some of their dead weight and they need to do it yesterday.
The Red Sox are playing great baseball. Josh Rutledge is holding his own at third. Andrew Benintendi is a contender for the Rookie of the Year Award. Mookie Betts is leading the Red Sox with 12 homers. Chris Sale is as masterful as ever. But with the Red Sox dead weight that consists of Sandoval, Porcello, and Leon, it’s hard for the team to play better, and they certainly can.
The Red Sox Are Winning the Late-Inning Games
The Red Sox were among the league leaders last year with runners left on base and runners left in scoring position. It seemed like the Red Sox gave up once they fell behind. We’re not seeing that attitude this season. Back-to-back walk-off wins against Philadelphia last week proved that the Red Sox can play under pressure. What’s even better is that players like Benintendi are the ones coming through in the clutch.
Red Sox Dead Weight Is Dragging The Team Down
It’s not always easy to cut dead weight. Players like Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello have such big contracts that it’s hard to find another team that’ll pick them up. In other instances no one wants them. But the Red Sox should just rip off the band-aid and shed these players before the All-Star break. Keeping them around is like putting raisins in oatmeal cookies. They just get in the way.
There’s a great scene in the film Moneyball where Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt, goes against expert advice and cuts a number of players, including Jeremy Giambi. These players weren’t panning out. They were dead weight on the field and a distraction in the clubhouse. While the plot of Moneyball and the reality of the Red Sox are completely different, it’s a lesson that the Red Sox could learn something from. The front office needs to stop coming up with excuses and make some difficult decisions.
I love to bake but I’m not very good at it. That’s my sister Mary’s expertise. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. Mary gives me her recipes and I follow them precisely. Despite my attention to detail, my creations often come out of the oven on fire. Needless to say that’s frustrating. The Red Sox front office and management must feel the same way about the lineup they assembled this season. After all, they have all the ingredients for a
championship team but no matter how careful they are they can’t catch first place. In some cases, like my cookies, they game catches fire, and not in a good way. Their offensive is inconsistent, and so is their pitching. Unlike recent years where the Red Sox were just bad, fans are watching a discombobulated Red Sox struggle on the mound and the plate.
First and foremost I will reiterate that the Red Sox need to break up with John Farrell. He knows how to rally the troops when his job is on the line, but then they become complacent and start losing again. But replacing Farrell isn’t the only thing the Sox need to focus on.
Porcello Can’t Get It Together
Rick Porcello ran away with the Cy Young Award last year after going 22-4 last season. That’s an .846 winning percentage. So it was only natural fans and management alike expected Porcello to do the same, of not better, this year. But as of June 16th Porcello is 3-8 and leading the league in losses. Seven of his eight losses came as a result of a lack of run support. Red Sox hitters didn’t score more than four runs in any of those losses. But it doesn’t help with Porcello gives up a lot of runs either. If Porcello can find a consistently reliable pitch then we’ll start seeing more wins out of him. But for now he’s part of the reason we’re seeing a discombobulated Red Sox team on the field.
Hitters Aren’t In Their Prime Yet
It’s exciting to see Jackie Bradley Jr. blast a home run 450 feet. But don’t forget he’s only hitting .232 so far this season. Everyone loves Andrew Benintendi but he’s just a rookie and has a long ways to go before he reaches his prime. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are strong hitters but still struggle to maintain consistency throughout the season. It’s going to be another season or two before these hitters are an ever-present threat to opposing pitchers. When they enter their prime though they’ll catch fire. Hopefully David Price stays healthy, Porcello shakes his slump, and Sale becomes better than ever.
The Sox are coming off of a two-game stretch against the Philadelphia Phillies in which the team took home back to back walkoff wins. Fenway Park was buzzing on Monday and Tuesday night when Boston came away victorious in a couple of extra-inning affairs. The hero on Monday night was Dustin Pedroia, while the clutch hitter of the night on Tuesday was Andrew Benintendi. These wins are more than just a W in the column. Walkoffs not only raise confidence, but also team chemistry and usually performance catches a boost as well. The Red Sox walkoff wins should do just that.
Red Sox Walkoff Against Phillies Monday Night
On Monday night, the Red Sox trailed 4-0 after the first inning. Rick Porcello has unfortunately continued to struggle in finding a rhythm this season. The Sox did manage to battle back though, as Mookie Betts went for 3 doubles on the night and Benintendi had 3 hits. In the eleventh inning, the stage was set as Dustin Pedroia lined a ball past the second baseman Howie Kendrick. Devin Marrero score the game winning run on a head-first slide, and the celebration ensued.
Red Sox Walkoff Again on Tuesday
Fast forward to Tuesday night where Boston and Philladelphia played very evenly, matching each other with a 3-3 score in the 6th. That score would stay the same until the 12th until Andrew Benintendi came to the plate. The young Red Sox outfielding phenom ripped the ball down the right field line, scoring Xander Bogaerts and walking off for the second night in a row. Xander led the way with three hits while Mitch Moreland hit his ninth home run of the season.
What Do the Red Sox Walkoff Wins Mean?
I’m not sure why this team likes to give the fans so much stress sometimes, but a win is still a win. No matter how good we look on paper, this is still baseball where anyone can win on any day. In a league where the Cubs can lose three out of four to the Rockies, anything can happen. As long as the Sox get the win, that is really all that matters. They just have to make sure they compete against the great teams in our league, as well as the bad.
Rick Porcello and I both had a bad weekend. He lost to the Mariners 5-0 and I got dumped. Like Porcello, I thought I did everything right but apparently it wasn’t enough. He thought he did everything right too but he lost anyway. As the Red Sox struggle to grab first place, Porcello struggles to match last season’s numbers.
At least the Mariners didn’t insult Porcello by asking him if they could still be friends.
Few people expected Porcello to have the season he had last year. After all, all eyes were on David Price after he signed a $217 million deal. But it was Porcello who ran away with the accolades. However, this season is proving otherwise. Like my dating life, the Red Sox can’t score. They get on base, but their hitters can’t drive them home. Some say it’s because opposing pitchers figured out the weaknesses of the Red Sox lineup. Then again it’s not hard to figure out how to get players out like Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox are a young team. With the exception of Pedrioa, guys like Bradley Jr. Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts haven’t been in the majors for very long. They haven’t found their consistency yet. Opposing pitchers take advantage of that weakness. Unfortunately for Porcello, this means more losses than wins.
Porcello Struggles Highlight Flaws in Red Sox Lineup
Last April I asked Fred Lynn about his amazing rookie year when he won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in 1975. While it was a successful year, the pressure to do better the following season intensified. “I tried to tell people, the press, ‘I did some things that no one had ever done'” Lynn told me. “I don’t know that I could do that every year.” For players like Lynn and Porcello, a successful and award-wining season only intensifies the pressure to play even better. The Red Sox had many successes last season. Several players made the All-Star team. Betts won a Gold Glove Award. Bogaerts picked up a Silver Slugger Award. But these successes happened in a close proximity, which created a positive atmosphere the players fed off of. The players don’t know how to adapt to that loss of energy.
Having a losing season after winning the Cy Young is like getting dumped. One minute you feel loved and wanted. Then you find yourself alone wondering what the hell happened. I don’t bring it up for sympathy as much as I’m writing about it because it’s the only way I can relate to Porcello. People might say that love and baseball have nothing in common, but they’re wrong. As Ted Williams once said,”Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.” As Porcello struggles, he and I have to remember that defeat doesn’t mean failure. We might have more failures than successes right now, but it doesn’t mean we’re down and out. Porcello will get another start and I’ll get another date. Maybe my next date will be at Fenway Park watching him pitch!
The Red Sox starting rotation has yet to come full-throttle. Sox fans are beginning to grow tired of the team’s inconsistent pitching. Despite Chris Sale’s massive success, the rest of the rotation has been inconsistent to say the least. Drew Pomeranz is the only starter with a winning record, and David Price has not returned from injury. Speaking of injuries, Steven Wright can’t stay away from them. Not to mention, Rick Porcello has not found his groove from last year quite yet. It’s still early, but when will it be time to press the panic button?
David Price’s Return Should Aid Red Sox Inconsistent Pitching
If all goes well, LHP David Price is slated to pitch one more simulated game before he goes on his rehab assignment. This is the best news we have heard so far concerning Price’s injury. News broke last month that he was still experiencing elbow soreness during long toss, but now he seems to be making progress. According to John Farrell, Price threw a 50-pitch simulated game on Thursday, maxing his fastball out at 95 mph. Price’s next sim-game will be Tuesday in Milwaukee, and he is expected to make his first rehab start next Sunday. Again, if all goes well, David Price could be back in the Sox rotation at the end of May or in early June.
Red Sox Inconsistent Pitching Does Not Include Chris Sale
At this point in the regular season, Chris Sale could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate. With an ERA of 1.38 and 63 strikeouts, he has been nothing short of electric. His average fastball velocity is up from last year, and he has yet to give up more than 2 earned-runs in a game. The problem is that the Red Sox have trouble scoring when Sale pitches. They have averaged 2.5 runs/game when Sale starts. I do not see this as a huge problem; Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and we will win games for him. It has to happen.
If the Red Sox want to succeed as much as they were expected to this year, they have to start pitching like they mean it. Also, David Price has to return to the rotation for them to have a chance of repeating their AL East championship.
The Red Sox are struggling to break out of third place. Setbacks against the Orioles and Yankees are making fans freak out. Calls to fire John Farrell and trade away key players are swirling on Twitter. Fans are getting emotional because the setbacks of last year are still fresh in their minds. It’s understandable, even justified, to get frustrated. But Red Sox Nation needs to take a deep breath and remember that it’s only May. There’s hundreds of games the Red Sox have yet to play and a lot can happen between now and October.
One of first demands that fans are making is for Farrell’s ousting. Fans scream that he’s been in too long, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, etc. But few of us, if any, know how to actually manage a baseball team. We don’t know what he knows. It’s easy to say what Farrell should have done AFTER a play went wrong. Plus I highly doubt the Red Sox front office would keep him around and spend the money they are spending if they didn’t have confidence in him. Yes, I was one of the many calling for his ouster last year. But he did lead the Sox to another AL East title, so he must have done something right.
Much of the frustration stems from society’s inability to stay calm. This impulse is evident in the world of sports. We’re evolved into a society that expects instant gratification. We no longer live in an era where we have to wait until the next day to read about what happened in a game. Back in the early 1990s I had to wait until the next morning to read about how the Red Sox did in the paper. Now all we have to do is look at our phones. We get angry at one bad play and that anger gets worse a few minutes later if our favorite players don’t instantly play better. We go from being fans, to ESPN analysts, to managers during a three-hour ballgame. We’re getting information faster than ever but all it seems to do is make us less patient.
Red Sox Nation Needs To Stay Calm, But Maintain Its Vigilance
When the Red Sox don’t pull their weight they should expect their fan base to give them a hard time. If a player doesn’t hustle he deserves to get booed. Same goes for a pitcher who doesn’t back up first. But to demand that someone be fired or traded away just because of one bad play or a loss is ridiculous. Unfortunately, that’s what I’m seeing on Twitter and Facebook. If Farrell keeps Wright in an inning too long then Boston demands a public execution. So while Red Sox Nation needs to remain a loyal fanbase, they also need to remember that the season is still young. If fans start making ridiculous demands now they’ll never stop. Or else next thing you know Rick Porcello will get booed because he didn’t throw an immaculate inning.
Relax, take a deep breath, and remember that it’s only a game. It’s fun to be a fan, and it’s fun to be emotional invested in a team. But at the end of the day we’re just fans.