Red Sox In Need Of All-Star Break

This season has been anything but good for the Boston Red Sox.  At this point in the year, the Sox have a record of 27-37 (as of Tuesday 6/16), and are currently the only team in the American League East who has a losing record.  Loyal Sox fans are still somewhat optimistic, but that optimism is quickly starting to go away.  And with just 25 more games until the team gets four days off for the All-Star break, this may be just what the team needs.

One of the toughest parts to the Major League season for a team that is playing terrible isRed Sox the fact that there is very little time off.  In any of the other major sports, if a team has a bad game, or stretch of games, they’ll usually have at least a day or two to regain some confidence and clear their heads, but not in baseball.  In baseball, teams will typically only get one or two days off a month.  With the way the Red Sox have been playing, they will need more than just a day or two off though.

Right now, the Sox are on a six game losing streak.  The team has been swept in back-to-back series by the Blue Jays and Orioles, two division rivals.  To make it even worse, this losing streak comes right after the team had just completed it’s first sweep of the season, and was actually starting to show some confidence.  But they’re now back to their losing ways.

There was, and still is somewhat, one positive part to this season, and that is Eduardo Rodriguez.  Rodriguez is the rookie left-handed starting pitcher who came out of the gates on fire.  Entering his last start, he had an ERA of 0.44, and had one of the best debuts by a rookie in team history.  But it seems like reality checked in during his last start against the Blue Jays where he lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing nine runs on eight hits in a 13-5 loss.  As a Red Sox fan, let’s hope that this was just one bad game that he will snap out of soon.

Rodriguez now has a record of 2-1, he is the only Sox starter with a winning record.  Wade Miley leads the team with five wins, but that is not a lot for a team at this point in the season.  The Sox bats aren’t looking any better either.  Dustin Pedroia stands as the only player hitting over .300 on the season.  These two things put together can only be a recipe for losing.

Now let’s try to look at things more positive.  There is still many more games to be played, and any sports fan knows that anything can happen in sports.  But with how things are looking now, the Sox need to turn things around soon.  The Sox finish the first half of the season with a three game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park.  I’d say they need to take at least two of these games to build some type of momentum and confidence going into the All-Star break, or this may end up being one of the worst seasons in Red Sox history.

Wade Miley Gets Yanked After Four, Has Acidic Reaction To It

This insufferable summer has taken another bizarre twist.  Thursday night in Baltimore, Red Sox starting pitcher Wade Miley was informed by John Farrell in the dugout following the fourth inning that he was done for the night.  Miley immediately threw a fit, showing up his manager and then storming out of the dugout, with Farrell in tow. Miley later resurfaced and watched the rest of the game with his teammates.

What right did Miley have to be upset?  He threw four innings, gave up nine hits (three of them home runs) and five earned runs.  His ERA is now 5.07, which is good for 89th overall in the American League. In his last three starts he is 1-2 and has given up 12 earned runs. Not exactly the second coming of Cy Young here.  Additionally, he’s making $3,666,666 this year, and will make $6,167,000 next year and then in 2017 he’ll pocket $8,917,000.

So Miley’s mad that his manager yanked him? C’mon! The Sox were only down by two at that point, and not completely out of the game, even for the. Farrell was trying to avoid being swept. Miley Cyrus could have probably pitched better last night than Wade Miley, and she wouldn’t have thrown a temper tantrum in the dugout, she would have waited until later to get in trouble with the law.

Farrell’s reaction after the game was that Miley’s a competitor and it was his day to pitch. Lame, yes, but did you expect Farrell to state that Miley stunk and probably should have been yanked earlier?  Miley also pulled a similar stunt in Arizona last year when he was pulled in the third inning of a game and threw a hissy fit with manager Kirk Gibson.  Too bad Gibson didn’t just lay him out.

The only highlight that came out of last night was when Dennis Eckersley, during the post-game show, wondered aloud if Wade Miley was on acid when discussing his outburst.

Looking at the Red Sox New Faces

This season has been rough for the Red Sox so far, as they sit  6 games below .500 and in last place in the AL East. The whole team has been under performing, but some of the new acquisitions the Red Sox brought in have been particularly disappointing. With about a third of the season gone, it’s time to take a look at some of the key guys the Red Sox brought in during the off-season.

Pitching: D

Going into the season, one of the areas many analysts and fans thought the Red Sox Red Soxwould struggle was pitching, especially with the starting rotation. Well, through 2 months of the season, those predictions have come true.

For the starters, the lowest ERA on the staff is Clay Buchholz at 4.33, and Wade Miley has the lowest of the 3 new starters the Red Sox brought in at 4.97, per ESPN. Rick Porcello, the guy a lot of people thought could have been a solid #2 at the least, has won only 4 games and has an ERA of 5.33, while Justin Masterson has an ERA over 6, and is injured to boot.

The new guys in the bullpen have not been much better, save for Alexi Ogando, who the Sox brought in as a free agent. He’s sporting a 2.95 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 18.1 innings of work, according to ESPN,which easily makes him the best acquisition as far as the pitching staff goes.

Lineup: C

The 2 big money guys we brought in, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, have left a lot to be desired so far. Both have had their upsides so far, but they haven’t been consistent enough so far. Hanley has been the better signing offensively with 12 home runs so far, but there was a big gap between numbers 10 & 11, which came Thursday in the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 5-0.

Sandy Leon has been a pretty pleasant surprise, at least defensively. He’s thrown out 3 of 4 base stealers so far, per Bleacher Report, which is pretty good in his limited action. He’s only hitting .205 right now, but most fans probably wouldn’t expect much more than that from a catcher.

Overall, I expected a lot more from the Red Sox lineup. I thought if there was one place I thought they would have success, it would be swinging the bat. With the lineup they have, they should have been able to at least somewhat mask the pitching deficiencies, but that hasn’t happened so far. That doesn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of the 2 big money guys, but they’ve had their struggles as well this season. I think I’m right in assuming that most of Red Sox Nation, myself included, expects more from the entire lineup, not just the guys we paid big bucks for.

It’s a long season, but the Red Sox need to turn things around ASAP. They have the talent to do so – they just need to start executing like they can.

Red Sox Pitching Must Be More Efficient

Red Sox Pitching

Everybody knows the Red Sox pitching has been awful this season. After all, the team has a collective 5.05 ERA, second only to the altitude-challenged Rockies for worst in the Majors. Such a lack of execution is very concerning. But, on a more nuanced level, the Red Sox also seem to be struggling with game-planning and strategic approach. Essentially, they just need to be more economical all around.

In many respects, Joe Kelly is the poster child for the Red Sox’ pitching inefficiency. His most recent outing, against the Blue Jays in Toronto, was a microcosm of what has, thus Red Sox Pitchingfar, been a very disappointing season. Erratic and frustrated, Kelly walked 7 batters and required 113 pitches to get through 5.2 innings. Similarly, against the Yankees five days earlier, he threw 97 pitches in a shortened, 4.2 inning effort.

Such inefficiency is highly unsustainable. When a starter requires 18 pitches, on average, to complete an inning, he isn’t going to stay around for long. Accordingly, the bullpen is forced to work more, which, in turn, presents its own problems of fatigue down the stretch.

Unfortunately, Joe is still a thrower, rather than a pitcher. Yes, he’s finally using his secondary stuff more this season, but, oftentimes, it’s more out of courtesy. At this point, Major League hitters are still content to let his breaking ball pass and, instead, sit on the fastball. As we know, even at 97 or 98 mph, hitters at this level will eventually time any heater if it’s not complimented by an adequate change of pace. Kelly has discovered that the hard way this year.

However, his results at least seem partly skewed by poor game-planning on the part of Red Sox coaches. In a general sense, Boston pitchers seem to lack a clear understanding as to the approach they’re supposed to be taking in games. We’ve seen starters shaking off their battery mate with more regularity this season, and also frequently getting crossed-up. Similarly, alarm bells rang when, during his 7-walk meltdown in Canada, Kelly lost at least two hitters on wild, 3-2 breaking balls. Obviously, a pitcher must vary his patterns, but you would expect Kelly to go with his best pitch in those situations. The fact that he didn’t perhaps illustrates some of the confusion and lack of guidance emanating from the Red Sox camp.

Of course, pitching coach Juan Nieves was fired amid such suggestions last week. Now, Carl Willis, his replacement, will be tasked with giving the Red Sox pitchers a more coherent frame of reference, and a clearer underlining strategy, when they take to the hill.

Red Sox Pitching

A major part of that will also be the continued development of catcher Blake Swihart into a competent pitch-caller and framer. The statistics may not suggest so, but watching Blake regularly, I believe he’s yet to adapt defensively. He’s struggled to get the borderline calls in favor of his pitcher and, as I mentioned earlier, has been crossed-up on more than one occasion. Of course, the guy is only 23 and barely a week into his Major League career. But, if the Sox want to solve their pitching conundrum, Swihart is going to have to learn fast.

Eventually, something has got to give. Either the Red Sox need to simply acquire more efficient pitchers with better command, or they need to put greater emphasis on the improvement of game-planning. Preferably, they would do both. But, whatever they choose, they must do so fast, before time runs out.

Red Sox Starters Among League Worst

Red Sox Starters

It is hard to find a silver lining after an 18-7 loss in Baltimore on Sunday, but if there was one it was the Red Sox were heading back to the friendly confines of home, in Fenway Park on Monday to start a series with the Blue Jays. The weekend series in Baltimore saw the Sox pitching staff hit new lows in terms of innings and the bullpen added to the misery.

The Sox seemingly have no starter on the staff right now who you could consider a “stopper” , or a pitcher who you know will stop a losing skid. Sox fans have to wonder—Red Sox Starterswho and when will a pitcher step up, or even be called up? Rick Porcello has been the best in my opinion as he has given the bullpen the most help, going deep into games, but also has a dub thrown in there as well. Joe Kelly has flashed that he could be lights out, but his meltdown in Tampa Bay where he walked in a run with the bases loaded showed he is still a work in progress.

Clay Buccholz everyone knows about, and has known about for the past seven years. He is capable of being great, but he needs everything to go right if he is going to be that guy. Justin Masterson is back for his second stint with the team and his role is the eat innings. He has yet to receive a loss on the year, but has left games where the offense has picked him up after giving up leads.

Wade Miley deserves his own category. In four starts, he has yet to finish six innings and in two starts he did not get out of the third. Very taxing on the bullpen and the offense when your starter can’t get out of his own way. Miley, acquired this off-season, will likely have a long leash before he is removed from the rotation. Fans soon may cringe when they see Miley listed as the starter that night.

Red Sox fans wanted an ace this off-season and as Spring Training ended without one, the question remained—who will step up in the rotation? So far you can say no starter has stepped up, yet John Farrell and Ben Cherington say it is too early to panic about the rotation. With your starters ERA being 30th in the league with 30 teams, one has to wonder how long before management starts to panic.

When and if panic sets in what happens? Brian Johnson was just named International League Pitcher of the Week for the PawSox in AAA, and he seems deserving of the first man to get the call if an injury or a starters turn is skipped. Matt Barnes pitched out of the bullpen this weekend and was sent down after going two innings on Saturday. The plan with Barnes on if he will remain a starter in the minor leagues or not is unknown.

Of course Cole Hamels does remain a Philadelphia Phillie and likely will until Ruben Amaro is satisfied with an offer for his ace. Betts and Swihart remain off the table, but the Red Sox may feel obliged to get creative with an offer if the rotation continues to struggle.

Red Sox starters have yet to string together a series of starts where you feel confident in them. How long will it be before John Farrell and Ben Cherington are forced to make a move?

Anthony Ranaudo Makes Texas Debut

Anthony Ranaudo

During the off season, in the wake of all the acquisitions to this years pitching staff, general manager Ben Cherington made the move to trade away 25-year-old Anthony Ranaudo to the Texas Rangers. Boston acquired left-handed specialist, Robbie Ross Jr. in return from Texas.

The Ranaudo trade to Texas caught a lot of Boston fans by surprise. Anthony Ranaudo ranked in Anthony Ranaudothe top-three of pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization and seemed to be on the rise. Ranaudo was outstanding in 2014 while pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox, posting a 14-4 record to compliment a 2.61 ERA en route to International Pitcher of the Year honors. Ranaudo also had a nasty curveball—winning best curve ball in the Boston Red Sox organization for two straight years. Ranaudo got some brief time with the MLB club down the stretch, going 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in seven starts.

Ranaudo’s brief struggles in the show weren’t necessarily the reason he was dealt, but more or so the reason of where does he fit in? Boston was able to bring in veteran starters, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley in the offseason leaving no room for Ranaudo in the rotation. Boston also has top-tier prospects named Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Matt Barnes knocking on the door so, in the big scheme of things, Ranaudo didn’t have a spot; Boston had a need for a left-handed reliever.

Ranaudo made his first start for a depleted Ranger rotation on Wednesday as he was opposed by Hector Santiago of the Los Angeles Angels. He would only go 1.2 innings in this one, allowing six hits, six runs to go with a 1-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

After a relatively smooth first inning, Ranaudo struggled heavily in the second. David Freese’s single to center lead to a Chris Iannetta walk, followed by a walk soon after- making it bases loaded with one-out. Angels second baseman, Johnny Giavotella, would deliver the big blower with a liner to left field scoring two and it would just get worse from there. Los Angeles was able to tack on four more runs off of Ranaudo en route to a 10-2 win.

Obviously Ranaudo wasn’t as prepared for this start as he would have liked to have been. It’s also obvious that he still needs some work down in the minor leagues before he can come up and make that impact the Rangers need him to make.