Friday, June 26, 2015

Look To The Future Now

It's time to look at the future. Time to play the kids.

I wasn't jumping for joy with the week the Red Sox had last week. They split four games with the Atlanta Braves, and then went to Kansas City and took two of three from the defending AL champion Royals, with the last game being a convincing 13-2 win. The Sox had also been awoken at the plate, having a team .294 batting average for the month of June, best in MLB.

But my fears were confirmed when they returned to Fenway and dropped two of three to division rival Baltimore. The Sox are now an abysmal 11-22 against the AL East (and they have a winning record outside the division), and 4-9 against the Orioles.

On May 31st, the Sox stood at 22-29, 4 games back in the AL East. I took a look at the schedule for June, and it appeared to be favorable to the Sox, with most of their opponents at or below .500. They had 28 games this month, and I figured they needed to go at least 16-12 in order to get back to some respectability and try to get back in the AL East race.

That now officially won't happen with yesterday's loss, as they are now 10-13 with five games remaining in June. I think even the most cockeyed of Red Sox optimists realize it just isn't happening in 2015, and Dustin Pedroia heading for the DL just adds to the misery.

Time for the Sox to turn the page on 2015 and look to next year. Jackie Bradley Jr. returned from Pawtucket yesterday, where he was having a terrific year and went 2-for-4 at the plate and threw out a runner at home in the ninth inning. Time to put Bradley in right field and leave him there. For the player's own well-being, they should see what he can do the rest of the way, and make a decision on him: keep him or trade him.

Eduardo Rodriguez got rapped around the second time through the Baltimore order yesterday, after retiring the first 10 hitters he faced. But the kid is still the goods, and will be a top-notch starter in year's to come. He is someone you can build a future rotation around. He's taking his lumps, but that is expected. He'll be an All-Star sooner rather than later. And we should be seeing the much-heralded Brian Johnson called up for a start shortly. He is 8-4 with a 2.57 ERA at Pawtucket.

Joe Kelly, who in March predicted he'd win the Cy Young Award this year, was sent down to AAA yesterday after yet another rocky start. He still has terrific stuff at times, and I can see him being the future closer of the Red Sox. He maybe one of those guys who is better suited to a one or two inning role in 2016.

The Sox will obviously be sellers on July 31. They have a few pieces they can move, like Mike Napoli for instance (although they won't get much for him). Quite frankly, they are stuck with guys like Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello. The future is with guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley. They'll be worth coming out to see when the standings say the Red Sox as a group aren't worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


No, I'm not talking about the latest Red Sox loss. (And the less said and written on that subject, the better.)

I'm talking about those new hats that MLB will debut for this year's All-Star Game. My first question about them is: why a new hat?

One of the special parts about baseball's All-Star Game (there aren't many left to be honest) is that each player wears his complete regular-season uniform, where as in other sports all-star games they all have to wear the same uniform, due to the nature of the sport. (And they usually are nothing to write home about anyway.)

I can only think of one reason: money. Something else for MLB to promote and make money off of. They could at least put together something a little more pleasing to the eye, and almost classic, like the hats the Pittsburgh Pirates wore on occasion in the 1970s (see above). I always thought they were pretty cool.

I know, I'm a traditionalist, and I'm guessing in the world today that is not looked upon as a good thing. But MLB could have come up with something far better than what they debuted yesterday. And of course, why do the players need to wear something special at the All-Star Game anyway? The "special" rapidly disappeared a long time ago.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bad Times Don't Diminish 2013

Times are bad, folks.

No use in recapping a truly awful weekend, as most of you either saw it or heard about it.

The AL East is now a four-team race, as the others are either playing well or in a position to make a run. (Remember how everyone was calling the division the worst in MLB? It is now the only division with four teams at .500 or better.) The Red Sox are the lone exception, now five games out of fourth place, and they are the second-worst team in the AL. And falling fast.

And now the question must be asked: will the Red Sox lose 100 games this year? Not out of the question, after the recent putrid displays of baseball I've recently seen.

I'm no longer angry. All my anger is used up. I'm just numb.

Bad trades, bad free agent signings, bad contract extensions. An unholy mess. Will John Farrell and/or Ben Cherington survive the season? It's looking more doubtful by the day.

And to conclude. I love these so-called "fans" (and so-called "pundits") who now want to practically disregard the 2013 World Series championship as either a "fluke" or an "aberration." It was neither. You DO NOT win 108 games and a title on just luck. And certainly not on a "fluke." A lot of things went very right in 2013. And the Sox earned their 2013 championship. That is forever. That cannot be changed. EVER.

It has been sandwiched around some bad teams. That's a fact, too. It seems to me a lot of these "critics" seem to forget the really "bad old days" of the early 1990s, when a championship seemed like an elusive dream that we might never see in our lifetimes, as the Sox were mired in mediocrity. But we did. Three times in this century. That should never, ever be lost in what is a team that has gone completely off the tracks.

Yeah, times are bad. Very bad. But remember there have been some very good times in the recent past. Nothing changes that, even if some want to harp on the negatives since 2011.

The Sox won it all in 2013, just two years ago. Deal with it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

As The Season Circles The Drain

So much for getting the season back on the right track.

The Red Sox sweep over the Oakland A's last week proved to be an aberration, as they promptly got swept in Baltimore. And it wasn't pretty.

Eduardo Rodriguez is the best thing I can say about this team right now. He was stellar in his third MLB start on Tuesday night, going six innings and allowing no runs, while striking out seven. He deserved a win, but naturally the offense couldn't be bothered to make an appearance, and the Orioles won, 1-0, and on a wild pitch that scored the only run.

And the next night was no better, as Baltimore won again, 5-2. Rick Porcello, who is being paid like an ace but sure isn't pitching like one, and allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. The offense was gone by the sixth inning, as the last nine men went down feebly in order to end the game.

Last night completed Baltimore's sweep, 6-5. Wade Miley had absolutely nothing, giving up five runs, including three home runs, in four innings. And then had the nerve to question John Farrell over being removed at that point. The offense showed some life in the top of the fourth, getting three runs, which included a two-run double by Pablo Sandoval. it was 4-3 and Miley proceeded to give up a bomb of a HR to Manny Machado. Miley didn't have a clean inning. Farrell had no choice.

Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons had plenty to say about this mess afterwards:

It now leaves the Red Sox back in last place, at 27-34, seven games behind New York. And now, one of MLB's hottest teams, the Toronto Blue Jays, come to Fenway on an eight-game winning streak.

So, when do NFL training camps open again?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Best Win of the Year So Far

Well, if this comeback doesn't jump start the Red Sox season, nothing will.

The Sox took the first two games from the Oakland A's this past weekend, but by the fourth inning of Sunday's game, it appeared a sweep over the worst team in the AL wasn't in the cards. Clay Buchholz was struggling, and had given up four runs after the fourth. The Sox could do little with Kendall Graveman, who allowed only six hits and one run after seven plus innings.

But the A's went to the pen in the eighth, and they exploded for seven runs, right after Rusney Castillo's first home run of 2015. Xander Bogaerts had the big blow, a two-run double to put the Sox up to stay at 5-4. (Castillo also drove in the last run on an RBI single.) Tommy Layne pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save and preserved a 7-4 Red Sox victory.

It was the first time all year that the Red Sox came from four runs down to win. It was also the first time they won three straight since the second week of April.

The Red Sox pulled themselves out of last place with the win, and sit at 27-31, 5 1/2 games behind New York.

The Sox have a favorable schedule for June. They are 5-2 since June 1, with 21 more games to play for the month. The only opponents they play that have winning records are Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

I know, I know. They are suckering us in again. But they really need to go at least 16-12 this month to get the ship in the right direction and show they are serious about getting back in the AL East race.

We'll see.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

A Lifeless Loss Against a Nobody

Last night's lifeless 2-0 Red Sox loss in the second game of a doubleheader opened my eyes.

After beating a decent Twins pitcher in Game 1, Phil Hughes, 6-1, they were facing somebody named Trevor May. I never heard of him, so I had to look up his stats. And they were nothing to write home about.

He was 3-3, with an ERA over 5.00. He is 6-9 over two seasons, with a career ERA of 6.42. This is the kind of pitcher the Sox would (and should) beat up on, if they are serious about getting into the AL East race.

They looked absolutely impotent against this guy. May allowed only two base runners, both on hits in the third inning. He went seven innings, striking out nine, and retired the final 13 hitters he faced. The Twins pen then retired the final six batters for the shutout win. I don't take anything away from May, but he's not Felix Hernandez or Chris Sale. If you're serious about being a contender, you have to feast against a pitcher like this, not make him look like Bob Gibson. And especially in front of your home fans. Last night was simply an embarrassment in the middle of an embarrassing season.

After a convincing 6-1 win in the opener, where Eduardo Rodriguez looked superb in seven innings in his second MLB start, the momentum died as Game 2 began. Rick Porcello was terrific, going eight innings, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits, with no walks. He allowed two runs in the second, his only trouble the entire game.

If I had quoted those stats to you before the game, and said some guy with a career ERA over 6.00 was going for Minnesota, you'd figure an easy win for the Sox, right?

Guess again. Yet again, the Red Sox offense showed absolutely nothing, and at home, which is no longer a Red Sox fortress. No fire, no spark. And with that no guts and no heart. My eyes are seeing things more clearly: that this team has no business being near a pennant race. Outside of players like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, they seem comfortable, and content with losing. And that makes me really angry as a fan. Did you also notice the empty seats in both games of the doubleheader yesterday? And with Hanley Ramirez feebly striking out to end Game 2, the boos from the crowd could be heard on TV.

I'd really like this team to prove me wrong. But I'm betting they won't. I'll predict they will not see .500 again in 2015, not with half-assed offensive efforts like yesterday's Game 2.

I'm not one to yell for firings, as that isn't the answer to this team's problems. But if they crash and burn again into a fourth or fifth place finish this year, some major changes need to be made when it all ends.

I'm getting tired of this act, and I know many other Sox fans feel like I do.I've seen enough lifeless baseball from this team already. And it isn't even summer yet.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Don't Look At Me, I Don't Have Any Answers

So which loss was worse in the two games that ended the Red Sox 1-6 road trip: Saturday or Sunday?

Saturday was a lifeless 8-0 drubbing by Texas, in a game the Red Sox weren't in from the get-go. The Rangers scored a run in the first, and the Sox didn't get their first hit against Chi Chi Gonzalez (wasn't he a golfer?), who was making his MLB debut, until the 6th inning. It was yet another embarrassing loss in season where they have been piling up in 2015. No hit, no pitch, no field (three errors). A lethal combination.

Sunday was a game where the Red Sox scored a run in the first, but Joe Kelly gave it back in the bottom of the inning (this trend of giving up runs to start the game must stop), but the Sox got the lead at 3-2 by the sixth. Kelly went the first five, and the bullpen was terrific until the ninth.

Pablo Sandoval made his second error of the game (he has been less than stellar at third so far), and that opened the gates for Texas. With a man on third and two outs, John Farrell had Koji Uehara walk the red-hot Prince Fielder, and took his chances with the just-returned Josh Hamilton, who came up as a pinch hitter and promptly doubled in both runs to give Texas a 4-3 win and they took three out of four in the series.

So, to answer the above question: Sunday was far worse. One out from victory, and the Rangers never led in the game until the final pitch. Beyond brutal. Social media is hammering Farrell for walking Fielder, but that was a pick-your-poison moment. What if Fielder had driven in the tying run, or worse, blasted a game-winning home run? "You should have walked Fielder!" the armchair managers would have been screaming in unison.

May ends a truly awful month for the Red Sox. They went 10-19, and had one of the worst month of May in their history. They averaged just 2.83 runs per game in the 29 contests, which is the third lowest rate in club history, behind just the 1906 and 1907 teams. (Thanks to Joy of Sox for the stats.) Once again, everyone knows they are in a very weak AL East, as they are just 4 games behind New York and Tampa Bay, who lead with paltry 26-25 records.

Simply stated, the Sox are a complete mess. Don't be fooled by the number of games back they are. I'm not going to sit back and offer any solutions as to what's going on. I have none. This is a team that has just not clicked since they started the year at 7-3. They are 13-26 since. That's .333 ball, folks. I don't know if firing John Farrell is any answer, who continues to remain calm through this never-ending storm.

I'd like to remain optimistic, but my optimism took a direct hit yesterday. It was one of those bad losses that can sink a season. Yeah, the math says 2015 isn't over, but really, what does your heart say?