Red Sox Review: Looking back at a successful first half

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07: The Fenway Park facade displays a Pride flag in honor of Pride night at Fenway Park before a game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox on June 07, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07: The Fenway Park facade displays a Pride flag in honor of Pride night at Fenway Park before a game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox on June 07, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have had a remarkable first half with the potential for 100+ wins. Now I present a few anecdotal snippets of what transpired.

The baseball summer solstice is upon us and that means the halfway point in another season. The beauty is for statistical types it is a comfortable projection opportunity as you simply double what has happened in the first 81 games. Undoubtedly that method is flawed, but I am an ardent advocate for the simplification it presents.

The first half offers some interesting and potential correlations to what may transpire in round two or the second half of the yearly scramble to be the best of the best. The Boston Red Sox terrific 17-2 start somewhat skewers their win total, but this team should approach and possibly exceed 100 wins. So – just what are my takeaways?

I may have the same inbreed local “hatred” of the Yankees, but also a world of respect. I simply cannot see the Red Sox being able to pass by, over, or under the Yankees to garner a division title. The Yankees have luxury cap space and a healthy basket of prospects for trading chips to fortify them for the final run.

Jackie Bradley and Blake Swihart are offering up null on offense, but JBJ can still earn some valuable points on defense.  Not so for Swihart. Both drag down the lineup.

Mookie Betts is the igniter. Betts is the one player who just seems to damage the opposition.  A rare player who can go hitless and still win it for you with a catch, throw, or electrifying move on the base paths.

The power is back for Xander Bogaerts and I must have a dose of mea culpa regarding Bogaerts. The key ingredient is Bogaerts’ ability to take positive action with runners on base. Hitting with men on base is a sure plus.  Bogaerts will never be confused in the field as a clone of Ozzie Smith, but he is steady.

What you see is what you get with Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon. There is nothing of note in the farm system in the catching department either offensively or defensively. We will have to accept the good game calling, nasty throws to terrorize runners, and .220 averages.

David Price is making a reasonable transition in his mid-life pitching career. Price will occasionally show a 97 MPH heater, but mostly for show. Price is now a very good pitcher who was once a great pitcher. The $32 million salary impacts our view.

The Rick Porcello of 2016 is not back, but it is certainly not the Porcello of 2017 when batting practice took place during and not before the game. The beauty of Porcello is a rubber arm. Rarely misses a start and goes deep – a blessing with questionable arms in the bullpen.

Dustin Pedroia is most assuredly missed. In 2017, before two injuries shelved Pedroia he was still one of the best at second in the league and quite possibly the best defensively. His glove is missed more than his bat.

Defense at third is just awful.  What is there not to like about Rafael Devers’ potential? His average is down significantly as his at-bats show as much patience as two teenagers at a drive-in. But oh that swing!

And with swings, one has to mention Andrew Benintendi.  Looks like the added muscle is showing results and after one home run in April, “Benny Biceps” has been on a tear. Benintendi is one of the top-ranked offensive players in the American League and an underrated fielder. Benintendi may be the starting center fielder and not next season.

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J.D. Martinez has done exactly what was expected. A right-handed David Ortiz? Maybe not in style points and persona, but certainly in production.

Apparently, the 2016 season for Steven Wright was not an anomaly. Wright – as with any knuckleballer – will have games that are a baseball furball, but if he continues like he has been of late you may see him be considered number two in the rotation.

I like Chris Sale, but I would be cautious about a Price like contract. Sale is pitching as expected, but the offense goes into hibernation when Sale takes the mound.

Alex Cora has been refreshing after the automaton blather of John Farrell. Farrell was a good manager, but about as exciting as a school board budget meeting. Cora is rather honest about his own failures and baseball faux pas during a game. No self-defensive BS.

I would not sign Craig Kimbrel. One of the best closers in baseball history, but the contract could be stifling.  The one thing that could force Boston’s hand is there is virtually no replacement.

Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg have killed this bullpen. I would feel comfortable saying the Red Sox and not New York would be in first place had both returned to their previous stature. I just can’t click my heels and do a victory dance when Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree show up.

Mo Vaughn is not playing first base for the Red Sox and I wish he was, but Mitch Moreland is a solid professional with a smooth glove and some respectable hitting.  A signing that turned out well.

For the last few years I have been on the Eduardo Rodriguez bandwagon – often alone. Rodriguez can flat-out pitch and once he discovers how to vacate that one bad inning a game you may see the Red Sox not signing Sale.

Next: Red Sox: Mookie Betts was perefctly positioned

Growing up following the Red Sox what I really admire about the teams of this century is an ability to win on the road. Often you saw station to station on the bases and waiting for an Earl Weaver three-run home run. No more. When this years team went west to play the Angels – whatever they call themselves – a swept and then took two (should have been three) in Seattle I was most impressed.