Boston Red Sox’s early-season positives and negatives.
Each season is wrought with numerous failures or disappointments that are often counteracted by positives. This 37% season is no different for the Boston Red Sox in that respect. No shocking surprise that the issue of premium importance is pitching. Ugly may just apply to the entire staff with a few notable exceptions.
The Good Red Sox
Christian Vazquez stands out after a few weeks as giving credence to 2019 not being an anomaly. In 2019, Vaz hit 23 home runs and so far in 2020 has slammed four. Last season, Vazquez even flirted with a .300 average before fading to .277. Toss in excellent defense, good game calling, and a bazooka arm.
Mitch Moreland is doing what Moreland usual does – excellent glove work, respectable power, and a low key player respected by all. Moreland has that knack for hitting when it counts as well demonstrated in the 2018 playoffs. He leads the team with six home runs and a walk-off on Sunday. A solid veteran.
The Red Sox may have their first significant free-agent success under the Bloom administration with Jose Peraza. Peraza was a dud in 2019 and became expendable by the Reds. Would he return to 2018 form (14/58/.288)? So far he has.
Nathan Eovaldi had a throwaway 2019 that was a physical disaster. His fastball is back and Eovaldi is now the “Ace” of a weak staff. A contractual failure? So far the right-hander has shown he may be worth that four-year deal.
I thought the Martin Perez signing was mush but the lefty has done far better than I expected after a rough opening game. Perez has two wins and not allowed a home run in 15.2 innings.
Leadership is important and Xander Bogaerts combines it with excellent play offensively and defensively. Last season was considered a breakout year as XB finally got the home run swing going and it is still going in 2020.
Alex Verdugo is starting to make Red Sox fans forget whatshisname.
The Bad Red Sox
The start of 2020 for Andrew Benintendi has been a nightmare. Hitting a resounding .056 and apparently as lost at the plate as Robinson Caruso was in the Pacific. This guy needs a hot streak.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is doing what he always has done – run hot and cold. The problem with JBJ is those cold streaks are getting far longer than the hot streaks. Bradley is playing for a free-agent windfall and he won’t get it on his glove alone.
J.D. Martinez is too good to fail and so far it has been a failure. Martinez also is faced with a money-making opportunity with a typical Martinez season as the DH is now universal and J.D. has an opt-out.
Rafael Devers is losing his race with Benintendi for the biggest disappointment of the early going. Devers is coming off a monster 2019 (32/115/.311) and looks like he is lost with the club in his hand. Is it his weight? So far (.175) he is not close to hitting it. I expect Devers to warm up and ditto for Martinez.
The Ugly Red Sox
Start with right-hander Ryan Weber who was sent on punishment duty to Pawtucket. Weber did nothing to impress with Atlanta, Seattle, and Tampa so this is no surprise.
Matt Barnes is doing what Barnes has always accomplished. Walks, whiffs, and home runs flying out of the yard. A Bradley version of hot and cold from the mound.
There may be an upside to Jeffrey Springs who has managed to not give up any runs in his last two appearances, but his opening salvo in Boston was freakish. Five runs in 1.1 innings.
Brandon Workman earned the closer role with a great September in 2019 and so far has three saves and none blown. But my nerves get rattled with the righty closer who has his usually walks – three in five innings – that is countered with seven K’s. I just keep on thinking Heathcliff Slocumb.
The rest of the staff is a trivia question for those who memorize rosters. Quite frankly they are collectively forgettable. Josh Osich? Austin Brice? That’s enough for an ever-expanding list.