Boston Red Sox 2019 blame game season is about to begin
By Rick McNair
Did this team give up? Did Cora lack the ability to motivate? Light a fire under a group of underperforming laggards? An examination of the player’s contribution or lack of contribution is the key ingredient to gelling together and being competitive against teams not from Baltimore or Kansas City.
The second base issue surfaced immediately with Dustin Pedroia being a noncontributor for the season unless you consider being a $15 million cheerleader being a valid contribution. The Red Sox won in 2018 without Pedey and lost in 2019 without Pedey. That said, the hole was filled with Michael Chavis being a pleasant surprise and Brock Holt doing his best after two injury-ravaged seasons.
You look at the Red Sox position players and even light-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. has some pop. Up and down the lineup it is formidable and as good as 2018 and probably better. Even a “slumping” Betts is having an outstanding year unless you match it with last season. Nope. Not the lineup. And unless you spent the summer picnicking in Slovenia and missed the games it all comes down to (surprise!) pitching.
Red Sox fans have a unique way of discussing players less than acceptable performances with the term “You suck,” but in this instance, it is anointed to just about everyone who took a ball to the bump and then had amnesia on just what to do with it.
The projected “Ace” Chris Sale had a new contract tucked in his vault and promptly started the season in full Julian Tavarez mode. Sale never really got 100% untracked and neither did David Price who reportedly plays Fortnight better than he pitched this season. The Numero Uno of the staff eventually became enigmatic lefty Eduardo Rodriguez.
The bullpen was opportunity city with the departure of Joe Kelly and closer Craig Kimbrel and several stepped up only to trip over the pitching rubber. The I-95 route between Pawtucket and Boston was well-worn as one after another attempted to unwind the Gordian Knot of the bullpen. The Red Sox, in desperation, finally gave the ball to promising Darwinzon Hernandez who may not have been completely ready, but is Aroldis Chapman compared to what Cora had to signal in.
The only positive out of the disastrous staff is they cannot possibly toss-up back-to-back furballs. Maybe Sale and Price will return to normal in 2020? Maybe Eovaldi will earn his dough? Maybe they’ll spend some of the Rick Porcello off the books money? Maybe.
This staff is not the worst in baseball but they made significant inroads to being close among the teams that actually have a shot at the postseason. So when I measure their contribution I give them a 3.5 mitigated by injuries and not indifference.