A lackadaisical first half from the Boston Red Sox

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Jay Kenney

Everything was supposed to be great in 2015. Fresh faces, new talent, lots of money spent. We were supposed to look past the little things like Ortiz not hitting in spring training, buy into the ‘five aces theory’ and this magical athletic build Sandoval showed up to camp with:———>

There has been an impressive laundry list of failure and disappointment scattered throughout this Red Sox season. Whether it has been watching Rick Porcello develop into an absolute nightmare or Wade Miley having a hissy fits in the dugout, it has been difficult to locate positive vibes anywhere near Yawkey Way. Pablo Sandoval showed up looking awfully overweight and hasn’t delivered the way he was expected to. Hanley Ramirez is probably one of the best, worst left fielders in Sox history. The guy can jack one over the monster with one arm but can’t catch a fly ball. Rick Porcello was signed to a four year $20m/yr deal. Porcello is 5-9 with a 5.90 ERA. Porcello let up 78 runs all of last season, he has allowed 66 in just the first half of 2015. The Sox traded Yoenis Cespedes for this guy! Incredible. Ben Cherington even traded proven starter John Lackey for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Both players have been key problems and disappointments for the Sox this season. Kelly was one of the expected “five aces” and ended up in Pawtucket by June. Buchholz was solid through the first half and of course ended up on the DL as one would only expect from him. The man is built with glass.

 

$180,445,996. That’s the Red Sox payroll.

Courtesy of www.baseballprospectus.com

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The Red Sox went into this offseason as big spenders and have one of the highest payrolls in team history. What have they gotten out of the ‘important, vital’ signings they have made? A last place finish in the first half of the season, a terrible pitching staff, and below average to average fielding and hitting. Not to mention poor attitude.

They have simply been a bad baseball team for the first half of this season. Do we have reason to think it all turns around in the second half?

Personally, it’s tough to see a reason why. There has been zero consistency from anyone beside select Red Sox players. Having good pitching is like having good goaltending in hockey. It is the building block that can either make or break a team. The Sox pitching staff has averaged a 4.44 ERA good for dead last in the entire American League. They have let up the most amount of runs (392) in the American League in the first half and 98 more than the Kansas City Royals (296). In addition, they had let up the highest amount of hits in the AL (822) while the Royals pitchers have only allowed 132 less hits (690). We haven’t had consistent hitting throughout the season and pitching isn’t even close to being playoff relevant. The Sox are dead last in the AL East halfway through the season and have scored 110 less runs (376) at this point than their division foe Toronto Blue Jays (486). The batting numbers being put up by the Red Sox haven’t been all that bad when compared directly to the pitching. However when the Sox need to score a ton of runs to win one game and have no confidence in their pitching staff it puts a lot of weight on the shoulders of the sluggers. Could be an explanation for their veteran’s lack of hitting other than pure laziness.

Another building block of any successful team is heart. The 2011 Bruins had it. The 2013 Red Sox had it. The 2014 Patriots had it. This squad of Red Sox players? David Ortiz just sat out a vital last game before the All Star Break when the Sox were riding arguably their hottest streak of the season; with a chest cold. Hanley Ramirez looks like he has tuned out completely whether they win or lose. Wade Miley ripped the manager right in front of the cameras, and John Farrell defended him in the post game press conference! There has been multiple instances of the Sox outfielders not even knowing how many outs there is within an inning. Their collective mindset doesn’t seem to be winning baseball games. It seems like its closer to beer and chicken wings. Josh Beckett would love this locker room atmosphere. He could even check out some girls on social media during bathroom breaks with Insta-Panda I’d bet.

Mike Napoli is a supposed power hitter, has played in 80 games, and is batting .193. David Ortiz is batting a measly .231. Rusney Castillo was supposed to be a huge pickup and he has played 26 games and is batting .230. The veterans have stunk minus Pedroia and Holt. Hanley is batting .274 at the break with 19 HR’s. At first glance on paper that sounds great but he has been tough to watch in the field so I don’t count him. De Aza has been a solid acquisition and is batting .323 with a small sample size. We’ll wait until the second half to evaluate his play.

The key positive to take out of this season so far is what the young guys have shown. Eduardo Rodriguez had several quality, vital starts and could be an important piece of a successful team down the road. Bogaerts has blossomed into a stud, quality player. Zander has played 85 games, batting .304 with 43 RBI’s. Mookie Betts hasn’t been as good as Bogaerts but has played 86 games, is batting .277 with 43 RBI’s. Both Bogaerts and Betts are 22 years old, have arguably been the most valuable two players along with Pedroia in the first half of the season.

Let’s talk Brock. Brock Holt deserves all the credit in the world. The man was only penciled in as a utility player his entire career and has found success playing seven different positions in the first half of this season. He shows up every game ready to put in max effort, a lesson that many higher paid Sox veterans need to learn from. He even hit for the cycle which was another impressive feat for him personally. Congratulations Brock Holt! Batting .292 in 71 games played at 7 different positions. Really incredible numbers for a utility player, and likely the best utility player in baseball.

The Red Sox could be sneaky playoff contenders if they hit their way into contention but with their lack of heart and soul I don’t see that being possible especially with this pitching staff. It’s almost laughable that Cherington put this team together and expected there to be serious deep playoff contention. It was apparent early on that this team would face huge problems as built. Farrell has been handcuffed by the team presented to him by Ben Cherington. While Farrell was not always sharp through the first half, he didn’t pull the trigger on the offseason roster moves. Cherington is the one who signed Rick Porcello to a 4 year 20m/yr contract. Keep playing the young guys that have done so well. Allow them to grow into stronger players. Let’s start weening the Sox away from veterans who are only showing up to be paid. The Red Sox have a bright future down the line, however, I do not think that bright future will become a reality until well after this season ends and this Sox team does not have the cojones to pull it together to make a playoff contention push in 2015. Some fans can continue to be delusional about the prospects of this team but the writing is on the wall.

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