Sunday, May 21, 2017
It's time to admit that Drew Pomeranz is a bust for the Red Sox.
The lefty has yet to get past six innings this season. Moreover, in his last three outings, Pomeranz hasn’t lasted more than four innings.
It’s part of an ongoing pattern. Since joining the Red Sox last July, he has gotten an out in the seventh inning just twice in 21 starts.
This season, Pomeranz is 3-3 with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP through eight starts. But the evidence of his failure to perform stretches back to last season, when Pomeranz went 3-5, with a 4.59 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP over 68.2 innings, for the Red Sox.
It will never be forgotten (and perhaps never forgiven) that the Red Sox surrendered their top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, for Pomeranz. It was a steep price and one that has already proven to be far too costly.
Perhaps the failure of Pomeranz, who was an All Star last season with San Diego, is attributable to a bad left elbow, which the Padres were fully aware of prior to the trade.
San Diego withheld medical information about Pomeranz’s elbow from the Red Sox before the trade, which eventually became public knowledge.
Consequently, on September 16, 2016, Padres general manager A. J. Preller was suspended for 30 days for keeping two sets of medical records for players - one internal and one for league use.
The Red Sox worst fears may be materializing. Pomeranz, who received a stem cell injection in his left elbow during the offseason, began this season on the 10-day disabled list due to a left triceps ailment. Then he was recently pulled from a game after complaining about left triceps soreness.
Whatever the reason, the Red Sox can’t trust Pomeranz when he takes the mound. He puts too much pressure on the bullpen because he can’t get past the sixth inning, or sometimes even the fourth.
With an ERA approaching 5.00, Pomeranz barely qualifies for fifth-starter status in Boston, a high-payroll team with very clear playoff expectations.
No one should be surprised if Pomeranz’s season is derailed by his elbow troubles, and surgery remains a possibility, if not a likely outcome.
The Red Sox were given the chance to rescind the trade last season, when Preller’s devious dealing was revealed. But the Red Sox, who were in the playoff hunt, declined the offer since the trade deadline had already passed, leaving them with no other options. Boston just crossed its fingers and hoped for the best.
At this point, Dave Dombrowski and company would certainly like a do-over.
Friday, May 12, 2017
With 15 doubles as of Friday, Mitch Moreland is on track for at least 50 doubles this season, something that has only been accomplished by seven players in Red Sox history.
Incredibly, the club record for doubles in a single season is also the Major League record. Red Sox outfielder Earl Webb hit an astounding 67 two-baggers in 1931. Webb posted freakish output that season, as his next highest total was a mere 30 doubles.
Here’s the list of Red Sox players who’ve hit 50 or more doubles in a season. It's quite short and reads like a who’s who list of Sox greats:
Earl Webb - 67 (1931) (MLB Record)
Nomar Garciaparra - 56 (2002)
Tris Speaker - 53 (1912)
David Ortiz - 52 (2007)
Nomar Garciaparra - 51 (2000)
Wade Boggs - 51 (1989)
Joe Cronin - 51 (1938)
Dustin Pedroia - 54 (2008)
Fourteen different Red Sox have led the American League in doubles, with several multiple-time winners. Carl Yastrzemski captured the doubles title three times and holds the team career record of 645 – well ahead of the 525 registered by Ted Williams. Williams twice led the AL in doubles with back-to-back titles in 1948 and 1949.
The gap between Sox players who've hit 40 doubles in a season and those who've hit at least 50 is canyon-like.
A Red Sox player has hit at least 40 doubles in a season just 24 times in the club’s lengthy history. The list includes Hall of Famers like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Tris Speaker and Wade Boggs, as well fan favorites like Johnny Pesky, Fred Lynn, Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts.
But there are some modern Sox players on that list that might surprise some: John Valentin hit 47 doubles in 1997, Bill Buckner hit 46 in 1985, Bill Mueller hit 45 in 2003, Jody Reed hit 45 in 1990 and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit 40 doubles in 2013 ( a club record for catchers).
Some Red Sox players made the achievement a habit. Wade Boggs leads the list, notching at least 40 doubles an amazing 8 times. Ortiz reached the mark five times. Nomar Garciaparra did it 4 times. Williams, Yastrzemski, Valentin and Pedroia each hit the mark 3 times. Meanwhile, Tris Speaker, Joe Cronin, Eddie Bressoud, Fred Lynn, Jody Reed, David Ortiz and Mookie Betts all hit at least 40 doubles twice.
Should Moreland maintain his current pace, he would join a rather illustrious group. Though it may be too early in the season to make such a projection, he certainly has a good shot at hitting 45 — a number that has been reached by a Sox player just 24 times in the club’s 117-year history.
That, in itself, would be quite an impressive achievement.
Saturday, May 06, 2017
Xander Bogaerts exemplifies the Red Sox tired, lackluster offense this season
More than a month into the 2017 season, the Red Sox are 15-14 and in third place in the AL East, four games behind New York and a half-game behind Baltimore. This is the same team that was the preseason favorite to win the AL Pennant. The good news is that they remain a game above .500.
Yet, the Sox have lost six of their last 10 games and are not trending in the right direction.
The starting rotation has mostly kept Boston competitive and in games. Chris Sale has a 1.38 ERA; Eduardo Rodriguez has a 3.07 ERA; Drew Pomeranz has a 4.00 ERA; and Rick Porcello has a 4.48 ERA, which should get better; right?
Boston this week lost knuckleballer Steven Wright to season-ending knee surgery, which could be a big blow given that he went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA and was an All-Star last year. The righty got off to a rough start this season, going 1-3 with an 8.25 ERA, but that was likely attributable to his knee injury, which began in spring training.
However, David Price has yet to throw a pitch this season and his presence will surely help to stabilize and improve this rotation.
Boston’s starters have a cumulative 4.18 ERA, which is 14th in the majors and 9th in the American League. No matter how you slice it, they’re middle of the pack, which is more than can be said for the Sox’ offense.
The Red Sox have topped four runs only four times in their last 15 games. Even worse, they have scored three runs or less in 12 of 29 games this season.
Boston is 27th in the majors (out of 30 teams), with just 110 runs scored. Unless your rotation and bullpen are consistently outstanding, it’s very difficult to maintain a winning record in that environment. Yet, the Sox have done it, albeit by just a single game.
The problem is attributable to a total power outage; the Red Sox have totaled just 19 home runs this season. Yankee phenom Aaron Judge has 13 all by himself. This is not the hallmark of a classic Red Sox team, which has been built on slugging for many decades.
Not a single Red Sox player is slugging as high as .500 this year. In fact, Christian Vazquez leads the club with a .467 slugging percentage. Yet, the Boston catcher has just four doubles, 1 triple and no home runs. Yeah, it’s that bad.
Guys who were expected to carry the Sox’ lineup and be run producers just aren’t getting the job done. Consider the following:
- Mookie Betts is slugging .420 with 13 RBI (he was runner up for the MVP last season)
- Pablo Sandoval is slugging .377 with 10 RBI (Sandoval is currently on the DL due to a knee sprain)
- Xander Bogaerts is slugging .370 with 6 RBI
- Dustin Pedroia is slugging .330 with 8 RBI
- Sandy Leon is slugging .286 with 6 RBI
- Jackie Bradley is slugging .263 with 6 RBI
That’s the bulk of the lineup and they’re not getting it done. It’s not enough production to win very many baseball games, making it all the more amazing that the Red Sox still have a winning record at this point.
The best this team and its fans can hope is that as the weather starts heating up, so does the offense. We’ve been hoping that for weeks, however.
Help is not on the way. Minor leaguers Sam Travis or Rafael Devers will not rescue this offense. Beyond, those two, most of the organization’s upper echelon of prospects has been traded away in recent years to obtain players such as Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz.
The trade deadline is still nearly three months away and ownership is determined to stay under the luxury tax threshold anyway. In other words, some big-time slugger won’t be arriving in Boston this summer to spark the offense. The players on the current roster will have to figure it out themselves. They need to be better and perform to their potential.
It should not be forgotten that the Red Sox had the best offense in baseball last year, leading the majors in runs, hits, doubles, total bases, RBI, batting average, OBP, slugging and OPS. That’s nearly every single statistical category. Yes, the Red Sox' offense was a juggernaut in 2016.
The only notable absence from last year’s roster is David Ortiz and though he was a world-class slugger, he was not the entire offense. It’s as if much of the lineup decided to retire their bats along with Ortiz's.
Hitting is said to be contagious, for better and for worse. If a couple of the above hitters can get going, it could have a broader impact, sparking the whole lineup.
It needs to happen sooner than later. This is the time of the year when teams want to pad their record with wins, before the grind of the 162-game schedule begins to take its toll in the season’s later months, in the form of fatigue and injuries.
One thing is for sure: we haven’t yet seen the best this Red Sox team has to offer. They’re surely better than this.