Friday, May 27, 2016

Bradley's Star Rising, Buchholz' Falling

Some thoughts about the conclusion of the Red Sox' latest homestand.

Jackie Bradley's 29-game hitting streak came to end last night at Fenway, as he went 0-for-4, hitting out of the leadoff spot for the first time in 2016, as Mookie Betts got a night off.

It was a great run for the centerfielder, who has now shown he is developing into quite a good all-around MLB player. His defense continues to be spectacular, and now he is second in the AL in batting at .341.

John Farrell put Bradley in the leadoff spot, and I thought it was a smart move. He was trying to get him some additional at-bats, and Bradley has hit in five different spots in the order during the streak. But still I saw yahoos complaining on social media that it was Farrell's fault the streak ended for taking JBJ "out of his comfort zone." Oh please. Bradley has shown he can hit from anywhere, and batted leadoff during his minor league career, too. Two of Bradley's at-bats nearly resulted in long hits, as he put both the rightfielder and centerfielder in front of the fence for long putouts. The streak was going to stop sometime. It just happened to be last night.

Congratulations to JBJ on a great month-long run. He's a star on the rise.

And now we turn to Xander Bogaerts, who got a single last night to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. He's one of MLB's premier shortstops, and like Bradley, his star is rising fast as well.

Now on to the negatives of last night.

Clay Buchholz is a headcase. And should be removed from the rotation right now.

He looked good the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters. But then the home run ball came back to bite him, big time. He allowed three two-run home runs, and it was 6-2 Colorado. Buchholz has now allowed 10 homers with men on base this season, the most in the majors. He was booed lustily after the third home run, and being removed after the first batter reached in the sixth. If I were at Fenway, I'd be joining in the chorus.

Buchholz now has a record of 2-5, with a 6.35 ERA. Eduardo Rodriguez had a solid rehab start at Pawtucket this past Tuesday, and the Sox will decide shortly whether to activate him next week. Now, I don't see where they have much choice. The Sox have three options as I see it with Buchholz: make him a one-inning reliever out of the pen (I really wouldn't bet on that), yet another DL stint (which he knows all too well) or DFA him. His contract is virtually untradeable. They are still on the hook for $8 million for the rest of 2016, and it's doubtful any team would take that on in a deal. (He's a free agent after this season, and the Sox hold an option for $13.5 million for 2017.)

Buchholz has had his chances, and continues to blow them. I'm wondering if we have indeed seen his last start in a Red Sox uniform. The White Sox DFA's John Danks earlier this month (and wound up releasing him) with a similar deal that Buchholz has. With Rodriguez' return about to happen, no one else but Buchholz should be moved out. We'll see what Dave Dombrowski does. Dumping Buchholz outright wouldn't surprise me.

I saw a great line about him on Twitter last night: "It was do or die for Buchholz tonight. He selected the "die" option." Ain't that the truth.

The Red Sox offense this season could be historic, as they are on pace to score more than 900 runs (which they last did in 2004). Allan at The Joy of Sox pointed out the Sox players are dominating the Top 10 in the AL in just about every major offensive category. And this is really impressive:

Batting Average: Bradley #1, Bogaerts #2, Ortiz #5
On-base Percentage: Ortiz #1, Bradley #2, Bogaerts #4
Slugging Percentage: Ortiz #1, Bradley #2
OPS: Ortiz #1, Bradley #2
Runs Scored: Betts #1, Bogaerts #5, Pedroia #7
Hits: Bogaerts #1, Betts #4, Bradley #6
Total Bases: Ortiz #3, Betts #5, Bradley #6, Bogaerts #9
Doubles: Ortiz #1, Bogaerts/Shaw #4, Bradley #10
Triples: Bradley #1, Betts #4, Shaw #8
Home Runs: Ortiz #6
Extra-Base Hits: Ortiz #1, Shaw/Bradley #5, Betts #7
Times On Base: Bogaerts #2, Ortiz #6
Runs Batted In: Ortiz #1, Betts #3, Bradley #4, Shaw #8
Runs Created: Ortiz #1, Bradley #3, Bogaerts #6

No comments: