Red Sox hitting well has run dry as offense sputters toward mediocrity

Apr 19, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; General view of Fenway Park while the Boston Red Sox take batting practice prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; General view of Fenway Park while the Boston Red Sox take batting practice prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox can’t produce runs. How strange is that? The offense is a muddled mess and it is reflected in that very run production. Will it be solved?

You never miss the water until the well runs dry is a saying that is a metaphor for taking something for granted. That phrase certainly applies to the current situation with the Boston Red Sox offense.

Red Sox fans are certainly perplexed by the sudden change of events for a team that historically bludgeoned opponents.

In 2016, the Red Sox led the American League in just about every significant offensive category from standard to even the most intricate and mind-boggling metrics. This season little was expected to change and 800+ runs seemed just the low-end of the offensive spectrum.

True – David Ortiz had hobbled into retirement, but Mitch Moreland would pick up some of the slack along with a further upswing in contributions from the talented and still improving younger players.

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The Red Sox had a potential replacement in Edwin Encarnacion to whom Ortiz gave his blessing as a potential DH addition. Encarnacion certainly can match Papi with noted home run and RBI power. The Red Sox passed. The now parsimonious team decided to stay under the fiscal Mendoza Line of a luxury tax.

The painful reality is suddenly the offense appears to have all the threats of a fruit fly attempting to war with an elephant. The real issue is that the farm system has gone belly up on the ability to create offensive ready material. Sam Travis – not a big home run threat – has hit a developmental wall with Pawtucket. Blake Swihart – a projected big time bat – languishes around .200. Bryce Brentz – once touted as a right-handed destructive force is now a 28-year-old Triple-A lifer.

Allen Craig is simply done. Rusney Castillo will forever be noted as a $70 million blunder. Even if Castillo suddenly discovered his bat, dusted it off, and hit something he would remain sequestered in Pawtucket – a victim of the luxury tax lid placed on the roster. There is nothing else at Pawtucket as that well is dry – very dry.

The only player of merit who offers up projections of potential contributions is Rafael Devers who toils away at Portland. I do not wish to burst any dreams, but Devers is far, far away from Boston except for a car ride to watch a game from the stands. The same is true of the usual flotsam that inhabits the farm system – all are just too far away from reaching the golden ticket in Boston. The truth is help is not on the way for the morose of the current lineup – at least in the farm system.

The Red Sox will have to look elsewhere to find that bat that could give the lineup a nice jolt – where is Jason Bay when you really need him? The names of the usual suspects will surface as teams attempt to get something for a soon to be a free agent or to extricate themselves from a burdensome contract. You will see Todd Frazier and Ryan Braun mentioned as both have that attractive asset of a right-handed power bat.

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Looking at Braun’s contract is interesting with all those zero’s that signify his salary. A fiscal ouch! Frazier hits home runs in flurries and strikes out in flurries. Braun plays primarily in right field and Frazier does his defensive obligations at third base. I mentioned both not as a must, but as an example. More will certainly surface as the season advances.

To get talent you have to give talent and that becomes an issue. Boston simply has little to offer. Their top ten prospects are somewhat misleading since most advancements were based not on ability but whom Boston shipped elsewhere. I do not expect Michael Chavis or Bobby Dalbec to be high on any GM’s wish list.

Boston is fenced in at this point. If the hitting continues to be what you see is what you get they will have to sink another well. That may be in the off-season if they flounder offensively with a sorting on what may be available on the free agent market.

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The Red Sox lineup may just get a nice wake-up call – I certainly expect it. They have far too much talent to be more like a Yugo than a nice Bentley. If that does not happen, you may see the first casualty being Dave Dombrowski.