There is a pattern developing for the Boston Red Sox and it is now one step forward and two steps back. The young season is beginning to form and it ain’t pretty.
“Don’t worry we are just four games out”
“Don’t worry we are just five games out”
“Don’t worry we are just six games out.”
Do you notice a trend? The “Don’t worry” section of Red Sox Nation most certainly will state the team is just one winning streak away from getting back into what is now becoming a two-team race for the American League East title – a title that the Red Sox seem hell-bent on relinquishing this season.
I happen to use the naysayer approach and am becoming further convinced with each frustrating loss that this is not a back-to-back championship team. The hope springs eternal part of my Red Sox brain gets a firm jolt with a surprising three-game romp over the Rays in their home mausoleum.
Building upon the Tampa success the Red Sox returned home for the Tigers and a rematch against the parsimonious Rays – payroll well under $80M. The Red Sox responded by rolling over and adding another four losses to an ever-growing negative total.
The Rays and Yankees are for real. Tampa won 90 games last season and are on the pathway to repeat. The Yankees are winning consistently with a lineup that is more Scranton/Wilkes- Barre than New York.
The finger-pointing rightfully began with the most notable of all patient zero options in baseball – pitching. The rotation collectively decided to become a dumpster fire, but, alas the rotation has now demonstrated a pulse. Chris Sale and David Price have suddenly discovered their game only to see the offense got into the toilet.
The cast of characters remains virtually unchanged from the scythe that breezed through the ever-expanding playoff rounds. The only significant change was the contractual ambivalence directed towards the demands of closer Craig Kimbrel. That predicted hole has been temporarily closed by Ryan Brasier. But fingers can still point and I will most certainly succumb to that temptation.
The most notable at my first, second, and now season and a half plus glance is the defense of Rafael Devers. I thought that nothing could match the incompetence of Butch Hobson, but Devers has accomplished that. Devers is simply a deflating presence in the field. The question du jour becomes can Michael Chavis do the job?
After seven seasons the statistical evidence is clear on Jackie Bradley Jr. and his dual baseball personality. Bradley has an élite defensive ability and an offensive that produces a career .235 average. In another baseball era, Bradley would simply be a late inning defensive replacement. On the balance sheet, Bradley does not give enough defensive runs saved to balance out offensive runs lost.
The bullpen has – to use a dated political term – a group of “dough faces” or those with similar abilities. The unfortunate aspect is just what similar is? A quick scan of FIP and ERA will show that far too many are as reliable as a Ford Pinto gas tank.
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Just what does one expect from the offense? The Red Sox of 2018 were as productive as you can get in MLB. No game was over until the last at-bat and the lineup was capable of inflicting nightmares on opposing pitchers as their charter cruised in General Logan’s International Airport. This season they are an engine with misfiring plugs.
Just what is the cure? At this point, a trade or two could shake things up, but one must get value in return. The Red Sox trade potential is a rubber bat for a wooden arm instead of the reverse. You may, however, see some housekeeping of players approaching free agency that could bring in needed prospects, but don’t expect a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. type in return. Somehow I can’t see GM’s lining up to get a shot at Steve Pearce, Rick Porcello, or Brock Holt.
Despite the dearth of talent in the minor league system, there is some potential. Chavis has made the jump as has Darwinzon Hernandez for a taste. If the Red Sox continue to head south in the standings you can see any minor leaguers with a pulse be given a shot. Nothing to lose when you have already lost.
Of course, this simple missive is a bounty of negativity, but the end is near just may not be near. The previously mentioned playoff system can mean being around .500 gets you into the Wild Card. The Red Sox could also go on a 17-2 revisit of 2018. But when it gets to “Don’t worry we are just 20 games out” I will worry.