MLB Standings Watch: Red Sox make front office changes


While the Boston Red Sox remain at the bottom of the division, they still manage to find a way to make it to the top of the headlines. They did so again Tuesday night with the stunning announcement that Dave Dombrowski has been hired as president of baseball operations, while general manager Ben Cherington will step down from his position.

Dombrowski’s most difficult task will be rectifying the mistakes of the previous regime. As BoSox Injection’s Brandon Nickel alluded to this morning, Cherington’s decision to leave his position may have been due to an unwillingness to stand by while someone else attempts to undo many of his recent decisions.

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Cherington did a lot of great things for this organization, including a series of savvy moves that pieced together key contributors to 2013’s championship team. He is also responsible for helping the Red Sox develop one of the game’s best farm systems, which has started to provide the big league team with an infusion of youth that should form the core of this team for years to come.

However, it’s some of his more recent decisions that will continue to haunt Cherington. His decision to ink both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to expensive free agent deals backfired when it became clear that there was no feasible way to fit both defensively challenged players on the field without severely effecting an already underwhelming pitching staff. Speaking of the rotation, shelling out a lucrative extension to Rick Porcello before he ever took the mound in a Red Sox uniform turned out to be Cherington’s most damaging decision.

On the bright side, Dombrowski already has a track record of getting good value in return for trading Porcello. Unfortunately, the same price tag wasn’t attached to the beleaguered pitcher the last time he did it. That won’t stop him from trying, and Dombrowski isn’t shy about making high-profile trades.

This season has been a disaster for the Red Sox, but there are reasons for optimism going forward. They have a core of talented, young players that they can build around, plus a pipeline of prospects that can either add to that or be used to trade for established stars. They also have an ownership group eager to win and willing to flex their financial muscle. There are several paths that could take the Red Sox back to contention in the near future. It’s now Dombrowski’s job to find one that works.

 AL East Standings
(Division standings as of Wednesday morning)

(American League team gaining momentum)

Kansas City Royals: They have the most comfortable margin in the majors, with a 13.5 game lead over their closest division rival. The Royals have the best record and second best run differential in the league, so they should have no trouble cruising to home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

History tells us that pitching wins in October. Following their trade deadline acquisition of Johnny Cueto, the Royals now have it, with the third best ERA in the league (3.57) since the break. Cueto has done his part, earning a quality start in all four of his appearances with the Royals, while owning a spectacular 1.80 ERA and 0.93 WHIP.

Edinson Volquez and Danny Duffy both have a few red flags in their peripherals that suggest they may be headed for some regression, but both are pitching well lately with sub-3.00 ERAs since the break. With their lights out bullpen, the Royals don’t really need their starters to go deep into games.

(American League team that is struggling)

Minnesota Twins: One of the biggest surprises of the first half is fading fast, as Minnesota’s record dips below .500 following a 4-6 stretch over their last 10 games. Their -29 run differential suggests they have performed like a team with a losing record this season, but things have only gotten worse for the Twins lately.

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The Twins are last in the league with a 5.82 ERA so far in August. Mike Pelfrey has bounced back from a mid-season slump, but everyone else that has made at least one start in this rotation has an ERA of 5.20 or higher since the break.

The bullpen hasn’t been immune to these struggles either. All-Star closer Glen Perkins has been as steady as they come in the 9th inning over the last few seasons, but he’s blown a pair of saves and taken three losses since the break, while posting a brutal 8.10 ERA over his last 11 appearances.

The offense has also been sputtering this month, with Brian Dozier hitting only .200/.246/.385 in August. Torii Hunter provided the Twins with valuable veteran leadership early in the season, but has become a liability at the plate with only 5 hits in his last 45 at-bats (.111 average).

Even as the Twins begin to unravel in nearly every aspect of the game, their fall back toward mediocrity still puts them ahead of most of our preseason expectations.

Playoff Outlook
(Division leaders and teams holding a Wild Card spot in the American League)

AL East: New York Yankees (66-52)
AL Central: Kansas City Royals (72-46)
AL West: Houston Astros (65-55)
Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays (66-54)
Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels (62-57)